ANTIOCH, Calif. - The grieving step-father of an Antioch teenager killed with a pellet rifle says his son wasn't the only victim. He is imploring the five other boys who were there, to seek therapy, because of what they witnessed.
"It was an accident, now I urge you to go seek counseling," said Paul Ibarra, reading from a journal of thoughts he's collected since the tragedy a week ago. "Never stop telling your loved ones how much you love them," he urged.
He fathered 15 year old Marcos Garcia since he was a toddler. "I miss you so very much," said Ibarra, breaking down in sobs. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of your life, I love you."
The accidental shooting happened on the first day of summer vacation, as Marcos and five friends hung out at his house, his parents away at work.
A neighbor called Ibarra, alerting that Marcos was seriously injured. Ibarra called Marcos' cell phone and a police officer picked up, and advised him to go to the hospital.
The boys had been playing with a pellet rifle in the house and it went off, striking Marcos in the chest. "The doctor, she came in crying, and said 'I'm sorry we did everything that we could,'" recounted, Ibarra, "and then Ana threw herself to the floor."
Ana, Marcos' mom, has not set foot in her home since. She has been staying with relatives, while she plans the burial of her only child, in his beloved soccer jersey.
Practicing soccer at home was why the household had an air rifle in the first place. The family uses it to rid the backyard of gophers that dug holes and made it hard to play.
"He never touched the gun without anyone being there, and he was a very good shot," observed Ibarra. He is still not sure how the rifle was being handled, and how Marcos was hit. "I don't know what happened, the story goes back and forth, a bit ambiguous, what they tell me, they're under stress. Eventually it will come out."
He has shared advice with the devastated teen who pulled the trigger: "I told him, whatever you do in life, save as many lives as you can," said Ibarra sadly. "Boys do what boys do. I don't blame the rifle. I don't blame the boys. Things happen."
Ibarra does know the boys panicked, and ran next door instead of calling 911, and none tried to resuscitate Marcos. Precious time was lost before paramedics arrived.
Ibarra urges everyone, and particularly teenagers, ,to learn CPR. "I wish I was here, I wish I could have made a difference," step-brother Marc Ibarra told KTVU.
Marcos was the youngest of four children. "I think the hardest thing for me, being an older brother, is not watching him graduate, watching him succeed in life, grow-up, have a family," he shared.
Loved ones say Marcos was smart and funny, and besides soccer, loved fishing, fast food, and flirting with girls.
Ibarra was an Oakland Police officer for more than a decade, and saw his share of death, but says nothing prepared him for this loss, and he hopes it makes other families more aware of dangers in their own homes.
"What are you going to do when a tragedy like this happens to you?", he posed. Sadly, Marcos' passport arrived the day after he died. He was planning to travel to Mexico this summer, to visit his biological father after many years.
A viewing is scheduled for Friday June 16 at Holy Cross Cemetery Chapel, 2200 East 18th Street, Antioch, from 4-7 pm.
Funeral services, open to all, are Saturday June 17 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 500 Fairview Ave. Brentwood at 10 am.
A gofundme account has been established to help offset burial expenses.