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'Blessed to know that I knew them' | Three children in Arden-Arcade church shooting identified

A domestic violence restraining order filed by the mother of the three children shows a history of abuse.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Natomas Unified School District (NUSD) said Tuesday three of its students were victims killed in Monday's church shooting.

"There are very few words that can give comfort right now for this unspeakable tragedy," the district wrote in a statement.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the father and suspect as David Mora Rojas, 39. They also identified the victims as Samantha Mora Gutierrez, 10; Samarah Mora Gutierrez, 9; Samia Mora Gutierrez, 13; and Nathaniel Kong, 59.

Click HERE for the GoFundMe account setup for the victims.

On Tuesday night, neighbors who didn't know the girls organized a vigil to allow those who did know them to mourn.

The youngest, Samarah, was described as a kind and loyal friend.

"If I didn’t have anyone to play with, she would be there for me, and if I got sad or hurt, she would be the one to help me," said Estella Hernandez, who was one of many at the vigil.  

The middle child, Samantha, was described as a big reader.

"She struggled with reading, but she always had a book in her hand. She was always eager," said Marissa Sandoval.

The oldest sibling, Samia, also left her mark on many as well.

"I feel very blessed to know that I knew them," Sandoval said.

Answers are still in short supply as deputies try to find a motive for the shooting. 

“It is unfathomable that you could shoot a child, kill the child, moreso that it would be your own child. The motive will be certainly under investigation. I would have to think that who could do that would only be somebody who hates their ex more than they loved their children,” said Sgt. Rod Grassmann, spokesperson for the sheriff's office.

Rojas killed the four victims at the Church in Sacramento in the Arden Arcade area along Wyda Way on Monday. The shooter was the children's father. At a press conference Monday, Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesperson Sgt. Rod Grassmann said Rojas killed himself.

Authorities identified Kong as the chaperone for the visitation. Business records show Kong had been an executive in the church. Court records show that he served Mora with a restraining order in May.

Grassman says the shooter was living at the church during the time of the shooting.

The Church in Sacramento released the following statement: 

The leadership of The Church in Sacramento is shocked and saddened by the tragic shooting that occurred in our church meeting hall late Monday, February 28, resulting in the deaths of five of our members, including three young girls from one of our families. 

Our church body is devastated and heartbroken by this senseless tragedy and we ask for continued prayer for the victims, their family and our faith community as we grapple with this unexpected loss and trust the Lord for His strength in our grief.

The church went on to say they are cooperating with the sheriff's office.

The mother of the three children filed a restraining order against the father valid through May 19, 2026. 

The restraining order required the father to stay 100 yards away from the mother and daughters. The order also required the father to not "harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault, hit, follow, stalk, molest" as well as contact the three children. 

The order allowed for four hours of supervised visits, but requested a friend of the mother be the supervisor of the father's visits. The order required the father to attend a minimum of 16 anger management group sessions.

A domestic violence restraining order obtained by ABC10 filed on April 28, 2021, details some of the abuse.

In the document, the mother says she and Rojas were not married, but lived together for 15 years.

The document lists an April 2021 incident where Rojas was verbally and physically aggressive towards the mother and her children. The document also says he has choked and threatened to kill her in the past. The mother says Rojas was hospitalized for a week after threatening suicide. She moved herself and the children out of the home for their safety.

In the document, the victim says she does not believe he was in possession of a gun.

At the close of Tuesday's Sacramento City Council meeting, council adjourned in memory of the three young girls. 

“She (the mother) did everything that any one of us would have suggested to her to do," said Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby. "She was trying to escape violence and in the end, she is completely alone now. All of her children were killed in one moment.”

The children attended Bannon Creek and Leroy Greene Academy. The school is providing a Social-Emotional Support Team and Chaplains from the Sacramento Police Department at the two schools.

"For today and the next few days let’s focus on taking care of each other," the district wrote.

Sandi Davis, an Arden-Arcade resident, says she was devastated to learn that the shots fired came from the church.

“This is supposed to be a place of sanctuary, a safe haven, and a meeting place," Davis said. "This did not have to happen and has to stop. He obviously had bad intentions since he showed up to an arranged visit with a gun."

Shooting at Church in Sacramento

The shooting happened in the main sanctuary area of the Church in Sacramento Monday around 5 p.m.

RELATED: 5 dead, including 3 kids, after shooting at Arden-Arcade church

Sheriff Scott Jones said the shooter was estranged from the children’s mother, who had a restraining order against him.

The type of gun used in the deadly shooting isn't known at this time, and Grassmann said the sheriff's office is calling the shooting a "domestic violence"-related incident. Investigators believe the shooting happened during a supervised visit with the children and the fourth victim was their chaperone, Jones said.

Find more information about domestic abuse and domestic violence resource in Sacramento HERE.

Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

24/7 Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE

WEAVE 916-920-2952 – main crisis line  

My Sister’s House: (Asian/Pan Pacific Services) 916-428-3271 

24/7 Suicide Prevention Hotline: at 800-273-8255

Confidential Teen Line: 800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336) or text us by texting “TEEN” to 839863 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Law Enforcement Sacramento Chaplain 24-hour confidential hotline: (916) 857-1801

Parent Support Hotline: 916-394-2005

Children’s Crisis Nursery provides Emergency Childcare and shelter services at 916-394-2000

PEACE for Families (Roseville) 800-575-5352

Stand Up Placer: 24-Hour Helpline: 800-575-5352

READ MORE: 

Watch more on ABC10

5 dead in Sacramento church shooting: 11 p.m. update -- Feb. 28, 2022

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