A crowd gathered at the foot of the Magnolia Bridge ("Cabrini Bridge") on Moss Street on Bayou St. John, while Rafael Delgadillo's friends and co-workers handed out blue ribbons and safety pins. Delgadillo — active with Puentes New Orleans, LatiNola, Evacuteer and other community-outreach organizations — was shot early Sunday morning near North Olympia and Toulouse streets after two men approached his car at a stop sign. One man fired a gun at Delgadillo, striking him in the head.
Puentes organized tonight's vigil to "reflect and pray for a full recovery." Looming rainclouds and thunder didn't shake the tightly packed crowd, with only a few clutching umbrellas as rain poured for several minutes. Prayers were led in both English and Spanish, calling for peace and praying for Delgadillo's recovery. "Let's not use this event to start a war in New Orleans," said Delgadillo's friend Ronald Aviles. "Let's unite."
Delgadillo's father, Rafael Delgadillo Sr., closed with, "We hope to continue this ... to continue to be together against the crime of violence."
The crowd erupted: "Viva Rafa!"
The crowd then dispersed to sign a photo of Delgadillo (smiling, and holding a sign reading, "I Am LatiNola") and record supportive messages to several voice recorders for Delgadillo. A fundraising event for Delgadillo also will be planned.
Brent Tranchina, Delgadillo's roommate and captain of the Crescent City Soccer team on which they both play, says he saw Delgadillo's car parked by the house the morning after the shooting and assumed Delgadillo got a ride to the New Orleans Saints-Houston Texans game, not knowing what happened the night before. Delgadillo and Puentes often handed out flyers and pamphlets about the organization outside the 'Dome on gamedays. "... of all people for this to happen to," Tranchina said. He also said Delgadillo seems surprised by the outpouring of love and support. "He is a loved person," Tranchina said.
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry told Gambit the peace message of the vigil is inspiring, and the crime is another call to criminal justice groups to head "back to the drawing board."
Tranchina and the soccer team, who all joined the vigil, visited Delgadillo earlier today and report that Delgadillo can walk, talk, and see colors and shapes and identify people in the room. He also has a view of the 'Dome.