Family demands end to gun violence year after husband, father killed

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Vanessa Ayala stands next to photos of her husband, Anthony Martinez, killed a year ago Sunday in a shooting.   She's at a vigil in honor of him and other victims of gun violence on June 30, 2019. Vanessa Ayala stands next to photos of her husband, Anthony Martinez, killed a year ago Sunday in a shooting. She's at a vigil in honor of him and other victims of gun violence on June 30, 2019.
Dozens gathered Sunday at the West Side Church of the Nazarene on S. Seneca to honor Anthony Martinez and other victims of gun violence.  They are pushing for the city and state to find ways to prevent gun violence. Dozens gathered Sunday at the West Side Church of the Nazarene on S. Seneca to honor Anthony Martinez and other victims of gun violence. They are pushing for the city and state to find ways to prevent gun violence.
Vanessa Ayala watches a Christian rapper perform at a vigil honoring her husband and other victims of gun violence. Christian rap was her husband's favorite music. Vanessa Ayala watches a Christian rapper perform at a vigil honoring her husband and other victims of gun violence. Christian rap was her husband's favorite music.
Several children, including Anthony Martinez' kids, watch on as Vanessa Ayala speaks about their loss, frustration, anger, and hopes. Several children, including Anthony Martinez' kids, watch on as Vanessa Ayala speaks about their loss, frustration, anger, and hopes.
Friends of the Martinez family putting up photos of Anthony Martinez in happier times at a vigil honoring him and other victims of gun violence on June 30, 2019. Friends of the Martinez family putting up photos of Anthony Martinez in happier times at a vigil honoring him and other victims of gun violence on June 30, 2019.
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"He always put everybody else first.  So we want to bring light to those other people that were lost, not just him," said Vanessa Ayala, whose husband Anthony Martinez died in a shooting last year.

The family is demanding an end to gun violence in his name and in the name of others lost to gun violence.

Ayala says she wants justice for her husband's death, but she also wants to see the community come together to help prevent others from suffering the loss she and her family have dealt with this last year.

"When Anthony passed, not only did it affect the immediate family, but also all of those who he helped during his life," Ayala told those gathered Sunday night.  "I was surprised to hear some of the things he had done for people, even as a child."

Dozens gathered at the West Side Church of the Nazarene on South Seneca Sunday evening to remember the man they lost a  year ago to the day. 

Martinez was just 24, a new husband, and a father of three, when police say he walked into a Wichita emergency room shot.  He was one of three people to die in three separate shootings that day in the city.

"I've known him since he was a little boy and he was precious," said Christina Weber, a family friend who came to the memorial service. 

It's not the first time she's shown up to support the Martinez family.

"I went to the hospital when all this happened and it was just, I seen my son there.  It was the worst thing for a parent to have to go through.,,, " she ends in tears.

Weber, like many others Sunday night, want to see an end to losses like the one they've struggled with.  

"If we can all share the same vision, you know? Let's not fight.  Let's not.. it doesn't have to end over stupid stuff, you know?" Weber explained.

They say it's what Anthony would have wanted, too.

"He was very loving and he always put others before himself," Ayala said.  "That's why, like today we didn't want to just make it about him because he wasn't that way."

"No matter our differences we need to come together in our city and in our country," said their pastor, Cecil Brown.  "And, if we don't, violence is just going to take over."