CHULA VISTAPeople in the South Bay gathered at Bonita Vista High School Monday night to honor the life of 16-year-old student Gillian Aguilera who died in a shooting in National City. 

Diana Del Valle, the mother of Aguilera, attended the event set up by classmates at Bonita Vista. Monday’s vigil, in honor of her daughter, was an overwhelming emotional experience, one that also celebrated the vibrant and charismatic life of the teen.

“It’s heartbreaking. She was my motivation, she was my reason to continue to try hard and her not being here leaves an empty place in my heart,” Del Valle said. “My heart hurts heavily right now and being able to share with her friends and have them around. It just brings back the memory of my daughter.”

That heartbreak is shared with faculty and students at the high school through a vigil, showered with candles, photos, and signs honoring the 16-year-old. Former classmate and friend Mhark Cruz recall Gillian as a “fashionista” and caring friend. Those sentiments are reflected by most of the people FOX 5 spoke with at Monday’s vigil.

“She was the most beautiful person ever. She was such a beautiful soul. When you first meet her, she puts out this tough girl aspect, but once you actually get to know her, you can see the pure heart that she is and how much she loves everyone,” said Ysabella Diaz, another friend of Gillian’s. 

According to National City police, on Friday, Oct. 28 around 11:45 p.m., shots were fired at a Halloween party that ended in the death of two: Aguilera along with 18-year-old Edwin Barrera. Following that fateful night, Aguilera’s parents now leave their community, parents and other teens like Aguilera with a plea for caution.

“Do good. In this world right now, there is a lot of negativity and a lot of evil,” said Miguel Aguilera, father to Gillian.

“You never know. The minute that you give your child permission to attend somewhere and they’re there by themselves, anything can happen,” Del Valle said.

It’s an unfortunate tragedy and truth Del Valle knows all too well. She told FOX 5 Gillian’s sister Janessa Del Valle was also shot and killed in a senseless shooting in 2020.

“We were struggling every day, my daughter’s loss. But she didn’t let that get to her,” Del Valle recalled. 

However, despite the loss, Gillian’s strength clearly lives on at Bonita Vista High School and in the people she loved most.

“I can totally lose and give up, but because of her I don’t…I wouldn’t want another parent to be in the same position that I’m in right now,” Del Valle expressed. 

 “She’s been through a lot in her life and the fact that she would always put on a face and be there for others when she couldn’t even be there for herself.”

Juliana Anthony, Friend to Gillian Aguilera 

Two GoFundMe’s have been created to help cover the costs. For Gillian Aguilera, her page is about $2,000 shy of the $10,000 goal. As for the 18-year-old who was killed, Barrera, his page stands at around $9,600.

His family is hoping to raise $20,000 dollars to help cover funeral expenses.