Southeast Bakersfield

Nephew accepts diploma for slain uncle

Nephew accepts diploma for slain uncle
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — As the graduates marched in to the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance," there was one graduate who was not there.

"He should have been here tonight, but unfortunately God had other plans for him," said Alex Rodriguez, older brother of Filiberto Ponce.

The 17-year-old South High student was one of two people who were shot and killed during a party Saturday night at Columbus and Oswell streets. The other fatal victim was Jose Garcia III.

Two others, 20-year-old Ramon Garza and 20-year-old Reginald Bailey, also suffered gunshot wounds.

Ponce had moved in with older brother Alex Rodriguez in an attempt to make a better life.

"He came from a rough background, and he lived in a rough neighborhood," said Alex Rodriguez.

The family attended the graduation at South High where Ponce would have walked across the stage to receive his diploma. The school honored his memory by reading his name and then a nephew, Jonathon Rodriguez, accepted the diploma.

The audience gave a huge applause as the nephew accepted the diploma.

"He looked forward to graduation," said counselor Rich Richardson. "He had many plans, he wanted to go on to college, he wanted to become a doctor, but all that has been erased."

Bakersfield police are looking for 21-year-old Julio Jesus Romero in connection with the double homicide. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Alex Rodriguez said he fears some young people may want to take revenge for the murder of his younger brother. He wants none of that.

"I hold no grudges, and I know that God forgives him, and I forgive him, and that the family will forgive him, as well," said Rodriguez.