Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tragedy Hits Home

Photo: Brian Wilkins via Flickr.
So, what's another random shooting from yet another armed enraged man, right? Mass killings such as the one that happened yesterday in Seal Beach, California, have become much too common but this one, this one hit much too close.

When Kirk told me about a shooting in Seal Beach, it made me nervous. I grew up in the very next town, Long Beach, and Seal Beach was one of our many beachy teenage hangouts. My memories there are endless - getting ice cream from Grandma's on the corner, flirting with the lifeguards, bikini shopping along Main Street and happy hours too numerous to count.

Seal Beach Pier
Seal Beach always felt like an old-fashioned, gen-u-ine small town squished between the insanity of LA and shallowness of The OC. A place where flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts were always in fashion, year-round. It was a place where you could always find fish tacos, Irish beer and beach shells for sale. It was one of the few beaches along PCH that had a playground on the sand. People that are from there, stay there, and people that move there....well, they're just plain lucky.

The population count from the 2000 census was 24,157. In 2010, it was 24,168 - 11 more people. And I'm pretty sure I know at least three of those. Not a lot of big changes happen there, which is the crux of the Seal Beach charm. It's nickname? "Mayberry by the Sea."

Sadly, thanks to an angry, deranged ex-husband, Seal Beach became a place of mass murder when Scott Dekraai busted in to a hair salon and killed eight people, including his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier - a girl I knew from high school. It's a sign of modern times that my high school annuals, once kept purely for nostalgia, have now become a reference tool for Facebook invitations and shooting victims.

Michelle Fournier, pictured at left, with Christy Wilson.
But it gets worse. I quickly discovered that Christy Wilson also perished in this horrible event. I didn't know Christy personally but heard so much about her through my close friend, Debbie, who shared many memories with her. Debbie's daughter, Hannah, was also quite fond of Christy and posted this photo of she and Christy together on her Facebook, taken when Hannah was much younger:

Shortly after this, I get an email from my friend, Susie, who informed me that her friend, Laura Webb, also died in the shooting. Laura's mother, Hattie Stretz, was the lone survivor and is currently in the hospital. Hattie was in a chair, getting her hair done while visiting her daughter, when the shooting took place.

There is a candlelight vigil tonight and I so wish I could be there to honor the dead, including the innocence lost in this tiny seaside town. The OC Register is publishing the entire victim list tomorrow and it makes me nervous. As Susie wisely observed in her email today:
"We may have moved away but we come from a village."
I'm keeping so many people in my heart and prayers tonight and in the days going forward, including every single citizen of Seal Beach, California. But mostly, for Michelle's 7-year-old son. Evidently, this gruesome insanity was sparked by a custody battle and the irony is, now that little boy has no parents at all.


Lisa said...

I'm so sorry for those who knew the victims personally. This is so disturbing... I didn't know the details until I read your post. You're right, this just hits way too close to home.

Sown Comfort said...

What a tragedy. My heart aches for the loved ones of those who were killed so senselessly. What a shame. My heart and prayers go out to their families and friends.

Fang Bastardson said...

When I worked at the Grunion, Pygmalion were excellent advertisers. Their ad never changed, week in and week out.


ClizBiz said...

And I just found out Saturday that the main target of the shooting, Michelle Fournier, was also the girlfriend of my old school friend, Mike Warzybok. Yet another sad connection.