Families of mall shooting victims call for action against gun violence
HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. - At the north end of the Clackamas Town Center Wednesday night, dozens gathered to remember, to honor, to give thanks and to call for action.
"Your legislators need to know how important (gun reform) is to you and to your family," Jenna Passalacqua told about 200 people near the movie theater.
Passalacqua lost her mother, Cindy Yuille, a year ago today when a young man came into the mall filled with holiday shoppers and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle, killing Yuille, Steve Forsyth, and injuring a teenage girl, Kristina Shevchenko.
"Right now (legislators) are being intimidated by a vocal minority that is scaring them away from making any changes surrounding gun safety," Passalacqua said.
She was referring to the failed attempts during this year's Oregon legislative session to get gun reform bills passed. She also referred to public polls that find most people want gun laws tightened.
"It is our responsibility to step forward and to make a change," she said. "Reducing gun violence is a complicated issue, but that is not an excuse for inaction."
Yuille was a hospice nurse for Kaiser Permanente. Forsyth was just starting up a business in the mall to sell coasters. Shevchenko and a friend were on their way home from school and decided to take a shortcut through the mall.
After his senseless, unconscionable act, the shooter shot himself dead.
Yuille's husband, Robert, wants the shooter's name to be forgotten.
"I have no sorrow and no compassion - there's no forgiveness for the murderer Jacob Roberts. His name has not been mentioned since he shot and killed himself. He will be forever forgotten and certainly will burn in hell," he said.
Robert Yuille also called for tougher gun laws, saying that these acts are eroding people's freedoms by making communities unsafe for people to move freely about without fear of becoming a victim of gun violence.
"We hear of shootings every day on the local news just so a vocal few can have guns intended to kill people, instead of guns for hunting or sport," he said, calling on gun associations to get out of politics and get back into teaching gun safety.
The vigil included separate slideshows of Cindy Yuille and Steve Forsyth that were accompanied by prerecorded music. But the choir from West Linn High School sang live before and during the vigil.
Steve Forsyth was talking to his father on his cellphone when the shooting started.
"We spent the next four and a half hopeful hours that evening, waiting to receive the news that Steve was fine," said Forsyth's brother-in-law, Paul Kemp. "Sadly, none of us will ever have a chance to talk with Steve again."
Kemp said Forsyth was a good husband and father and was deeply involved in the community - from coaching youth sports to working with charities.
"We all have our special memories and times with Steve," Kemp said, later adding, "Unfortunately, we can't make any new ones with Steve."
He also referred to polls showing American's desire for reforms for purchasing guns.
"If you want to see these senseless and tragic shootings reduced, you'll have to speak up, you'll have to demand that your state and federal legislators enact reasonable reforms for purchasing guns," Kemp said. "Your voice is required to bring about a cultural shift for reasonable gun laws."
The families were thankful, too, and poured out their thanks to their employers, businesses, individuals and the community who have stood behind them and supported them over the last year.
"The generosity of the community has helped mend our grief, and our family truly appreciates your help and your kindness," said Robert Yuille.
Jenna Passalacqua recalled her mother's strength, kindness, spirit and her courage and "is something I will hold onto, and she embodies the woman that I strive to be."
Hunter, Cindy Yuille's son, remembered fondly his mother's cooking and drew laughs from the crowd when he joked that his father's cooking "sucks."
Remembering the Clackamas Town Center shooting
- "There's not rules for widowers: A wife and mother remembered.
- Victim's father remembers son's final phone call.
- "I think about it every day," says one survivor.
- Paramedics: "There are certain things you just can't talk about."
- "It hits you. You suffer for it," says a victim's father.
- How the shooting unfolded over Twitter.
- A year later, the gun-control debate rages on.