30 years later, sounds of gunfire still haunt shooting victim
OREGON CITY, Ore. - You can walk with Wade McGilvra through a soon-to-be dedicated memorial set aside by the parents of Oregon's murdered children, but walking in his footsteps is impossible.
To understand what the memorial means to him, you have to go back more than three decades to the sound of firecrackers in Salem that Wade still remembers today.
"The firecracker sounds continue," he says. "I got hit in the leg, and it was really at that moment I realized kind of what was happening. ... You started seeing people fall to the floor."
A black-and-white photograph taken in the moments after the shooting on that day, May 7, 1981, shows Wade holding his girlfriend Lori Cunningham's hand. In a matter of seconds, she and three others were dead inside the Museum Tavern. Nineteen, including Wade, were wounded. It was Oregon's first modern-day mass shooting.
The thing Wade remembers saying to his girlfriend is: "'Please don't die.'"
Twenty-five-year-old Lawrence Moore would never explain why he opened fire that night, emptying one clip from a handgun, reloading, and emptying another.
Moore was convicted without explanation for his crime and sentenced to four life terms in prison.
"Lori's remains were released to her parents, and that they were going to have her cremated and that there wasn't going to be a funeral," Wade says. "I essentially dropped to my knees in the kitchen floor, you know, crying. ... Your life just feels completely hollow and an empty shell."
Wade wasn't the only one living with the shooting. Also in that picture, lying on the floor, was Dennis Sharf.
Before the shooting, Dennis was an active man with a passion for racing cars. The bullet that went through his neck that night left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. He died just this February.
The cause of death was complications from that gunshot wound. Now, the Marion County district attorney has to decide whether Moore, still serving his four life sentences, should be charged with killing Dennis, too.
"I'm not looking for the state of Oregon to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, whatever it takes, to bring this guy out of prison and retry him again for murder," Wade says. "But I want to know that he'll never be released. I want to know that he'll never see the light of day."
Wade has since married. He says his wife helped him restart his life to muffle the sound of those "firecrackers." And the memorial in Oregon City is a healing place. Its constant waterfall is a reminder of unending tears - tragedies that fade but never go away.
"You throw a pebble out in the middle of a lake, and of course it creates the ripple effect," Wade says. "And you know, eventually at some point in time, it settles down. With murder, it doesn't settle down. Those ripples just continue. It just becomes a part of your life."
Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau tells KATU he's gathered, examined and stored boxes of evidence from the 1981 shooting in case he ever has to charge Moore with Dennis' murder.
Right now there's little chance Moore will ever get out of prison. So for now, the DA has put that additional charge on hold.