On the anniversary of Saryah Perez’s death, her family gathered for a memorial

Family continues moving forward ‘with Saryah in mind and with Saryah’s memory,’ grandmother says

One year ago, Saryah was at a car show with her family on Mother’s Day when a fight broke out and gunshots were fired, hitting her in the chest as the car she was in sped off.

SAN ANTONIO – Mother’s Day is a day of mourning for Saryah Perez’s family.

The BBQ at Elmendorf Park looked like your average Mother’s Day festivity, but it was a somber one for the family.

“We’re taking it tough. For me, it started yesterday. For Mom, it literally started at midnight,” Cynthia Alvarez, Saryah’s grandmother said.

For Saryah’s mother, Kassandra Mendoza, that means looking across 24th Street at the gas station where she took her last breath in her mother’s arms.

“It feels like just a few seconds ago, I was holding her in my arms, trying to bring her back, and I couldn’t,” Mendoza said.

One year ago, Saryah was at a car show with her family on Mother’s Day when a fight broke out and gunshots were fired, hitting her in the chest as the car she was in sped off.

“I refuse to let any other child go through the tragedy we had to go through another family, have to walk without a child the way we have to,” Mendoza said.

In the year that’s followed, her family has kept Saryah’s name and memory alive through a nonprofit called Saryah Lee’anna’s Blessings.

“We did a ... back-to-school backpack giveaway. We did a Thanksgiving plate and we nominated five families for Christmas,” Alvarez said.

On Sunday, their pain was palpable. The family had to hold one another just to keep it together.

“It breaks me every time because that’s where she took her last breath in my arms,” Mendoza said.

Saryah’s baby cousin and best friend held her ashes, memories, and love, as the days ticked by without her smile and laugh that held them together.

Andrew Ray Elizondo is facing a felony murder charge in Saryah’s death. If convicted, he could face 99 years in prison. Elizondo’s next court date is July 18th.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.