Sara Rubin here, checking in on a day that it feels inappropriate to use a greeting like “good afternoon.” In one week, 18 people are dead in two mass shootings that have rattled this country, but not enough—gun violence is preventable, yet we persist in doing little to prevent it.
We’ve learned as Americans to go through some predictable rituals in the wake of mass shootings, checking in with loved ones in the area, sending the “are you alright?” text messages. We read the news, trying to make sense of a motive. We learn the names and dreams of those who are dead, whose names we might never know if they had died a natural death.
In Atlanta on March 16, the world lost Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.
In Boulder yesterday, March 22, we lost Teri Leiker, 51; Denny Strong, 20; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Neven Stanisic, 23; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Lynn Murray, 62; Rikki Olds, 25; Eric Talley, 51; Jody Waters, 65; and Kevin Mahoney, 61.
I never met any of those 18 victims of gun violence, but they all mattered to someone. Kevin Mahoney mattered to Erika Mahoney, whose name and upbeat voice you might recognize from her job as news director at KAZU (and before that as a reporter at KION). Kevin Mahoney was her dad, and also was a soon-to-be grandfather—in announcing her sudden loss today on Twitter, Erika also announced she is expecting her first baby.
“I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado,” she wrote. “My dad represents all things Love. I'm so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer…I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter.”
She posted a photo of him walking her down the aisle, both beaming, and one in which he appears to be swallowing tears. (She and her now-husband decided to go forward with their reconfigured wedding on schedule despite Covid-19, getting married outdoors in their Carmel Valley backyard last May 30.)
Guns claim lives daily in our world, with no warning at all. As immediate as it is, it often feels like something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. Until someone you know, someone in our small Monterey County journalism circle faces that indescribable, wrenching, permanent loss. Erika, our hearts go out to you in this moment of grief—and to all the other families who have lost people to violence, our hearts go out to you too.
Here’s to a more peaceful future, with fewer lives lost.