The prime suspect in the fatal freeway shooting of 30-year-old Milpitas resident Matthew Rios was shot by park rangers in Big Sur this past weekend. 

That suspect was 26-year-old Milpitas resident Kevin Anthony Alaniz. On Saturday, he was seen on a trail in Big Sur, firing shots from a gun. He was then confronted by park rangers and fatally shot. 

In a joint press conference between the Monterey County District Attorney and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) this morning, it was revealed that Alaniz had been hiding out at Big Sur, as he’d been identified as a suspect in the case.  

Alaniz was the son of Rios’ mother’s fiance, which raises many unanswered questions about his motive.   

Rios’ mother Madonna Simmons refused to comment directly on the probability that Alaniz killed her son, saying that the investigation was still ongoing. 

Rios, who had been driving home from work on Interstate 680 on the night of Monday, June 17, was the victim of a freeway shooting. He was found unresponsive in his car just off the Landess exit in Milpitas, and was pronounced dead at the scene.   

A resident of Milpitas for a little over a decade, Matthew Rios had far-reaching plans. 

At 30, he had a vision of starting a new life, of moving from the house he shared with his mother in Milpitas and starting anew in the Philippines. 

Last year, Rios took a trip out to the Philippines for three months, to meet a woman he had connected with on Facebook a year prior. There, he proposed to her, and vowed to come back to marry her in 2020. 

“He wanted to buy land and a house in the Philippines,” said Simmons in an interview with The Milpitas Beat this morning. “He loved my country. He told me that a lot of people are so nice, and so friendly…that he felt so happy there…”

Simmons described her son as a loving and outgoing person. 

He had a passion for cooking, which he demonstrated at the restaurant Fusion in San Jose, where he worked as a chef. 

“He got his passion for cooking from me…and I got it from my mom…I passed it on to him,” said Simmons. 

Rios was born on March 12, 1989, in San Jose. Even before he emerged from his mother’s womb, his life was marked by tragedy. While Simmons was pregnant with Rios, Rios’ father committed suicide. 

Simmons had no choice but to find her strength and keep pressing on, for the sake of her unborn baby. She was a single mom from the get-go, working hard to provide for and take care of her son. 

Although being a single mom was tough, Simmons looks back on her son’s time growing up and speaks of what a bright light he was. In high school, he was into baseball, and was active in ROTC. In 11th grade, he dropped out of high school and began to work. Simmons asked her son why, and encouraged him to go back to school. But he preferred working and doing what he could to help his mom out. 

He often spoke of taking his mom back to the Philippines to relax and enjoy her life. A couple months before the shooting, Rios had mentioned that he didn’t want to die in the United States, but in the Philippines instead. 

“He just had a feeling. He felt like it was coming. He told me one time, ‘I have a feeling I’m going to go first.’ I told him, ‘Don’t say that.’ But he said he just knew he was going to die before me…and he wanted me to take care of myself,” said Simmons.  

Rios was frustrated with the way of life in America, and mentioned that he was depressed by all the stress and problems. Yet, despite all that, Simmons made mention of the fact that her only child had such a special way about him:  

“He was the kind of person that if you called him for help, he would be there,” said Simmons. “This just tears my heart apart. It’s a tragedy. It’s hard for me to live. It’s hard for me to process.” 

The investigation is still underway.

 

Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works with nonprofit organizations to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also an author; her first book will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in mid-2019. Her YouTube channel, which features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment, has amassed thousands of subscribers. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s founder.

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