Mother desperate for answers after son gunned down at Confluence Park

The shooting happened in broad daylight on Sept. 11, 2020

A San Antonio mother is desperate for answers after her son was shot at Confluence Park days before they planned to celebrate her birthday together.

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio mother is desperate for answers after her son was shot at Confluence Park days before they planned to celebrate her birthday together.

Lavinia Sabatino’s 21-year-old son, Jake Daniels Selph, later died at a hospital.

Sabatino said her son was her best friend.

“We were so much alike that we butted heads, but at the end of the day, we always had each other,” said Sabatino said.

“He filled up a room. He was everybody’s friend. He was the one you could count on. Lord knows I need him now,” she said as she broke down in tears.

Sabatino said she has rarely gone back home since the shooting.

“It is hard being there because everywhere I look, I see him,” she said through tears. “He was always redecorating, and I would get so aggravated at him when he would do it. Now, I don’t have that anymore.”

Sabatino said she was at home when she got the call that her son had died.

“I was at work when he had left the house,” Sabatino said. “I don’t really know the people who came to the house, but they were looking for one of their friends, and Jake knew where they lived. He was in his slides, basketball shorts and a T-shirt. Anybody who knew Jake knew he wouldn’t leave the house like that. Him being the friend he is, he just thought he was going around the corner to help find their friend.”

Sabatino said she couldn’t bear hearing what the detective told her over the phone.

“I dropped the phone. I thought it was a bad joke. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought it was a bad joke, and it is still a bad nightmare now,” Sabatino said. “Lauren, (Jake’s) girlfriend, picked the phone up. She was a trooper. She pulled me through that day. I couldn’t even read the article when they released his name. I stopped halfway through because even thought I knew it was real, reading and seeing that made it even more real.”

Sabatino said she wants to know why it had to happen to her only child.

“That is a sick person. The inspector told me Jake was the 100th homicide this year. He was the 100th,” Sabatino said.

Sabatino said there are multiple good Samaritans she would like to thank for being with her son in his last moments.

“Apparently, from what I could tell, they beat (Jake) up, and eye-witnesses said they pushed him out of the car. They said they heard five gunshots, and two gunshots went in his back,” Sabatino said.

“They said he ran across the rocks through the park to the middle of the street and was waving his arms for help. A lady, I don’t know who she was, pulled over and started doing compressions. I would love to know who she was. Then, an officer took over and started doing compression while another person stopped traffic. I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped because it makes me feel better that he wasn’t alone,” she continued through tears.

Sabatino said she will forever cherish all of her memories of her son, like when he turned 21 on April 13.

“We planned on having a birthday party, but he was like, 'No, I just want to watch movies because I’m old,” she said with a smile. “So we sat around and watched movies.”

Selph was figuring out his plans in life. One of them was to join the U.S. Air Force.

Sabatino said she will miss her son’s smile, his quick comebacks and his infectious humor.

“One time, he got me good,” Sabatino said. “I started learning how to do my eyebrows and he said, ‘Mom, you can’t leave the house looking like an Angry Bird.’ I said, ‘I do not look like an Angry Aird!’ He said, ‘Oh, yes, you do. Go back in the bathroom.’”

Sabatino said she would give the world to have more moments with her son again.

“I wasn’t ready to let him go,” Sabatino said. “I am still not ready to let him go. I am still waiting on him to come through the door. I am just having a hard time with that, knowing I will never get to hold him again. No grandchildren. Just a lot of nevers.”

She said his father, Tony Sabatino, helped mold him into the loving man he was.

“He is a strong man,” she said. In the beginning of all this, he was my rock. He was there for me, and I appreciate him for doing that. I know how I feel, but I can’t begin to imagine how he feels because Jake was his only child also."

Lavinia Sabatino said though it is hard to carry on, she forgives the person responsible for ending her son’s life.

“I don’t know if I can put into words the feeling I have,” she said. “I don’t hate him. I feel sorry for them for not having any compassion. A human life is nothing to them, apparently. I don’t think I would lower myself to talk to them. They are not worth that time. I don’t have a choice but to forgive them because if I don’t, it is just going to eat me up.”

She said she knows what her son would say if he could speak to her one more time.

“'You are stronger than this,'” she said. “'Pull yourself together and do what needs to be done. Remember me.'”

Lavinia Sabatino had the following message to other families.

“Don’t think for one second, it can’t happen to you,” she said through tears. “Everyone thinks it will never happen to me. Cherish every moment you have with your loved ones. My son did not deserve this. He wouldn’t have hurt a fly. The hardest part is not knowing why, and for the life of me, I can’t figure it out.”

Sabatino is asking anyone with any information that can help SAPD with this investigation to contact authorities.

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.