GILROY -- The family of a man slain in a Wednesday night street shooting identified him as Jesse Emmanuel Silos, a newly engaged 30-year-old former gang member who was turning his life around after a prison stint but got caught "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Silos was shot on Chestnut Street just before 9 p.m., according to police, along with a second victim who was hospitalized but survived his wounds. Police did not release any further information about the case on Friday, but previously said they have no known motive and are "evaluating a variety of leads."
Silos' mother Christina Varela said her son -- who was living in Firebaugh -- was gunned down when he went to visit an acquaintance in Gilroy, where Silos had previously been involved in a gang. Varela said the shooter confronted Silos' acquaintance, who still has gang ties, and opened fire.
"He wasn't even there five minutes," Varela said. "Everything happened so fast. Someone walked up and pulled a gun, and (Silos) was shot in the back as he was running away."
Silos was arrested in 2008 after commandeering a van occupied by a mother and her three kids while fleeing police, who wanted him in connection with a domestic violence incident and another involving brandishing a firearm.
He was taken into custody when pursuing officers, who had lost him, noticed a terrified woman in a van and stopped it to find Silos in the back seat. Nobody was injured, and Silos was booked on carjacking, weapons and drug charges.
Varela acknowledged that her son had gotten into "bad stuff on the streets," but said he served three and a half years behind bars and came out a changed man.
"He didn't go back to gangs," she said. "He was ready to get married and make a life for himself."
Silos became engaged last month, and the wedding was going to happen next year, Varela said. While he had a plumbing license, Silos' real passion was as a tattoo artist at his Traviaki Ink studio, where he would tattoo "anything you wanted" but was particularly fond of Aztec and Dia de los Muertos designs.
"Everybody got tattooed by him," she said. "I got one, too."
She said Silos was a big man with a big heart and a lot of friends and family, including three children age 11, 6 and 5.
"He was funny, and just a happy guy," Varela said. "He loved to play around and he loved kids."
Varela said Friday afternoon that she had mixed emotions after viewing Silos' body at a Gilroy funeral home.
"I feel much better after seeing him," she said. "But it hurts so much. And the bad part is coming, when he's laid into the ground and I never see him again."
Private services are being held next week.
Silos' slaying was the first homicide of the year in Gilroy. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Gilroy investigators at 408-846-0350. Anonymous tips can be made at 800-782-7463.
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.