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CSU Monterey Bay holds moment of silence for Karina Chavez Vargas during graduation

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV) UPDATE MAY 23, 2022, at 8:31 p.m.-- During a graduation ceremony last week, a name that wasn't called rang loudest.

CSU Monterey Bay's Latinx graduation began with a moment of silence for Karina Chavez Vargas, whose life was taken too soon.

"The time has now come to honor our graduates, but before we begin, we must acknowledge a student who is not here with us today," said a speaker for the ceremony. "Karina Chavez Vargas passed away in February. She would have been here with all of us celebrating with us today. We want to have a moment of silence in her honor."

In February, Karina Chavez Vargas was gunned down on Towt Sreet with her boyfriend, Jesus Arias Vargas. She had just completed her credits to walk in May, but she never got the chance.

Here is a statement CSU Monterey Bay shared with KION at the time of her passing:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a member of our CSUMB family. Karina had just completed the requirements for her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in December and was looking forward to walking in commencement in May. We offer our deepest condolences to Karina’s family, friends, and loved ones, as well as to those of her boyfriend Jesus Villa."

California State University of Monterey Bay

ORIGINAL STORY

Friends, family members, and co-workers gathered Tuesday night at Lowe's parking lot on East Boronda Road to mourn the loss of Karina Chavez Vargas.

She was gunned down, along with her boyfriend, in a car Saturday night on Towt Street in what police said was a random act of violence.

"I want people to remember Karina as she was. Beautiful, smart, but more than anything, she was caring," Karina's close friend Mayra Gonzalez Ramirez said. "She would always help her parents out with anything they needed. She was very reliable, and you could always count on her."

READ MORE: Remembering Jesus Villa, man gunned down in car in Salinas

At 6 p.m. people gathered at Vargas' place of work, where she spent the last five years while also attending CSU Monterey Bay to receive a degree in Kinesiology.

"I'd come into the breakroom and she would be asleep on the table because of all the homework," co-worker Jose Tizcareno said. "The constant trying to grind and get her bachelors and she got it, she was just waiting on graduation."

Jose Tizcareno worked with Karina for five years at Lowe's.

Candles were lit and a memorial was placed in the parking lot as more than 50 people arrived to grieve for the loss of the 23-year-old.

Several people spoke about their fondest memories of Karina and many were brought to tears when speaking about her.

Karina's mother and father were also present and her father spoke to KION on his thanks for the communities help in this difficult time.

"She was a great young lady, very hard working. I don't have many words to say other than wanting people to remember her as a kind person," Karina's father, Bulmaro Chavez Ramirez said. "I'd like to thank the community of Salinas that are supporting us and Jesus' family who has been helping me. Nobody is really ready for something like this and without their support, I don't know if I could have done all this."

Karina's father Bulmaro Chavez Ramirez.

CSU Monterey Bay gave a statement to KION:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a member of our CSUMB family. Karina had just completed the requirements for her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in December and was looking forward to walking in commencement in May. We offer our deepest condolences to Karina’s family, friends, and loved ones, as well as to those of her boyfriend Jesus Villa."

California State University of Monterey Bay

Police are still looking for two suspects who are believed to be involved in the couple's murder.

READ MORE: Two killed in shooting in Salinas identified

The couple shared no gang ties according to police.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Salinas Police Department.

"She was such a great person and her laugh was contagious. I trusted her with everything and anything. She will be missed dearly by all of us," Gonzalez Ramirez said. "I'd also like to thank everyone for helping out her family. They shouldn't have to worry about anything other than grieving their beloved daughter."

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23

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