Police are investigating a shooting that left a 25-year-old Reading man, identified as Victorio Ayala, dead shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
It happened at a home in the 100 block of West Elm Street. Two men holding handguns went in through the back and shot Ayala as he attempted to flee, police said.
"I turned around and he's gone. He's gone. I don't know what to do right now. I feel like I'm breaking down and I don't want to do that in front of my kids," said Clariza Rodriguez, who has two children with the victim.
Rodriguez said she was inside the home at the time of the shooting. She and Ayala were there visiting friends, whose children were also present.
"I was hovering over them with their mom," said Rodriguez. "Everything happened so fast."
Police said at least one of the gunmen attacked another man inside the home, pistol-whipping and kicking him.
"It was funny to these guys. It was hilarious, and it's not. It's wrong," Rodriguez told 69 News through tears.
Police said one of the gunmen was wearing a mask, and witnesses could not identify the second. Investigators told 69 News that the men "may" have stolen items from the home before fleeing the scene.
Police believe this was not a random act, however they would not specify a suspected motive. The homicide is one of five currently being investigated in the city in the past month.
"Whoever did this, even though I know you're not going to, I would love for you to come forward, be a man about the mistakes you decided to do," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez and her brother, Felix, organized a candlelight vigil for Ayala at Barbey's Playground on Wednesday afternoon.
Felix said the vigil was also meant to honor Luis Rosario, a friend of his who was shot dead in the 400 block of Schuylkill Avenue just over one week ago.
"They were good people," said Felix. "These are two friends that I lost."
He said he hopes the vigil will unite the community against violence in the city.
"We need to take back our streets. We really need to take back our streets. The community needs to stand up and do something," he said.