As Wednesday’s San Jose workplace shooting was underway, Taptejdeep Singh was calling colleagues and shepherding others, warning them to hide or stay away, his brother says, citing witnesses.
Singh, 36, and eight other Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) workers were fatally shot by a colleague in two buildings in the Northern California city Wednesday morning, before the gunman killed himself, officials have said.
“(Singh) was calling colleagues,” his brother Karman Gill told CNN on Friday morning. “As I’m told by his coworkers, he was telling them to go hide — and died fighting.”
The shooting happened around the time of a shift change at a light rail yard where vehicles of VTA — a public transit operation that runs bus and light rail service — are maintained and dispatched.
Gill, in a prepared statement from his family on Thursday, offered further details about his brother’s actions, citing what his family learned from “eyewitnesses and others.”
“From what we have heard, he reacted quickly to get colleagues into secure offices, and was frantically calling others who would have been coming in for a shift change to warn them about the shooter,” the brother said in the family statement.
Gill told CNN Friday that accurately reflects the character of Singh, a light rail operator who VTA said started working there in 2014 as a bus operator trainee.
“The first (thing) that comes to mind is the empathy and his compassion towards people,” Gill said. “And towards his last moment, it was that empathy towards people that he had along with his brave heart that he always had, to save others.”
Singh had a can-do attitude that likely served him in his last moments, his brother said.
“He used to love playing outdoor sports — volleyball, cricket. And even in the toughest time, I heard from other teammates … he used to be, until the last moment, ‘We can win,'” Gill said.
Singh, a member of the Sikh community, was born in Punjab, India, and moved to California with his parents about 17 years ago, the family statement reads.
He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 3 and 1.
The family hasn’t told the 3-year-old boy of his father’s death, Gill said Friday.
“Just yesterday, his son was asking, ‘Where is he?’ And we just had to tell him that he’s gone for a vacation, and … ‘He’ll be back with us.’
“So I can’t even imagine what it would be like for (the children) when they start growing up and start looking for their father on every event.”
Singh’s uncle, Sukhwant Singh Dhillon, told CNN Friday he was proud of his slain nephew.
“He always tried to help other people,” the uncle said. “Even (though) he lost his life, he saved … lives. So, I’m very proud of him.”