It's been a year of shattered dreams and indescribable grief for Kathy Gonzales, whose daughter, Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba -- and her unborn child -- were among the victims in the deadly shooting at the Pathway Home for veterans in Yountville.
The lives of psychologist Gonzales Shushereba, 32, Pathway Home executive director Christine Loeber, 48, and staff therapist Jen Golick, 42, were remembered during a solemn memorial Saturday afternoon.
About 100 people, including the victims' families and friends, Yountville, Calif., residents and local community leaders, gathered for the memorial in the Community Center on Washington Street.
"I'm just so happy they haven't forgotten them," said Gonzales, tearfully. "I'm grateful the women can be remembered."
Gonzales Shushereba, Loeber and Golick were killed in the March 9, 2018, tragedy by Albert Cheung Wong, 36, a troubled Army combat veteran who had been treated for nearly a year at the nonprofit veterans residential treatment center on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California. Cheung Wong then shot himself.
The shooting shattered the tranquility of the bucolic Napa Valley town, thrusting it onto a national stage as Yountville became the latest site of a mass shooting in America, Yountville town manager Steve Rogers said during the memorial.
"The unthinkable happened. Yountville was put on a new map," he said. "We're used to being put on the map for a lot of things. But we're not used to, nor did we expect to be put on the national map for the location of a mass shooting."
Rogers said the tragedy changed Yountville and took away some of the town's innocence. He said it also made it clear local residents and leaders must join the broader discussion over gun violence and mental health services to ensure such a tragedy is not repeated.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at improving the quality of life for U.S. veterans and particularly addressing suicide by vets. The executive order establishes a veterans suicide prevention task force that included representatives from numerous federal agencies.
Saturday's community remembrance, which was organized by the Pathway Home board of directors and the town of Yountville, originally was scheduled to be held at the Veterans Memorial Park on Washington Street. But it was moved to the community center because of the rain.
The memorial, briefly delayed by a power outage, was started by candlelight in the community center. Dorothy Salmon, head of the Pathway Home board, said the memorial was a chance to celebrate the lives of the three women killed, and work they and others do for veterans.
White roses were handed to those who attended. "Please take a white rose in memory of never giving up," Salmon said. "Like many of you in this room, my heart is still broken."
On the other side of Highway 29, Madison Hall, the site of the shooting at the Veterans Home campus showed no signs of activity. The Pathway Home nonprofit no longer operates out of Madison Hall, where the three women and the gunman died.
In the rear of Madison Hall, memorials dedicated to the women are kept in a flower and plant garden. Heart-shaped sculptures made of sheet metal painted red adorn the landscaping.
Embedded inside one of the heart-shaped sculptures is another smaller heart. A paper note, wet from the rain and placed partly under a rock, read, "Gone but not forgotten. Your good works continue. You three continue to touch lives. #VeteransMentalHealth."
This article is written by Martin Espinoza from The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.