Today marks the sixth anniversary of when a masked gunman entered the food court at Clackamas Town Center near Portland, Oregon and began shooting. Like many who live in the area, I remember the day well. As the reports came across the television that there was an active shooter at a mall a few miles away my heart dropped. Several of us gathered around a t.v. at the 24 Hour Fitness Center I was visiting, staring without words. I worried about my friends, students, former students, their families, and everyone else who might have their life ended or forever changed because they made the choice to go Christmas shopping that day. Unfortunately, it is a feeling that nearly every American has experienced at some point.
No one I knew was killed or injured, but the shooter did end the lives of two people: Cindy Yuille and Steven Forsythe. He also shot a 15 year old girl in the chest, who thankfully survived.
Cindy was a hospice nurse. Steven was a youth sports coach.
A hospice nurse and a youth coach; two people who dedicated their lives to helping others.
Both were parents of teenagers.
For victims, survivors, family members, and their surrounding communities: stories like this don’t end.
Steve’s son Alex is an outstanding football player. He played on West Linn High School’s 2016 Oregon 6A state championship winning football team. He is currently an Oregon Duck, who is currently playing as an offensive lineman with the second team.
Alex plays will front of 60,000 people at the stadium where he grew up going to games with his father. His father will not be there for any of those games, because he went shopping.
If you aren’t familiar with the hospice experience, count yourself blessed. Most of us that have watched a loved one receive care from Hospice understand that these are some of the truest angels on this earth. Cindy had two children. Her son Hunter Yuille is now 19. Her daughter Jenna Yuille Passalacqua has moved to Washington D.C., working for the Giffords foundation to prevent gun violence. This is headed by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at a shopping center parking lot in 2012. Jenna has also co-founded an organization called G.O.F.R.O. (Gun owners for responsible gun ownership.)
You can find out more about GOFRO here: https://www.responsibleownership.org
The victims are not just those who were shot. They are the people who were shopping and working in the mall that day. They are the loved ones and friends of those who were killed. They are the patients that Cindy would have cared for and comforted at the end of their lives. They are the kids that Steven would have coached.
Six years later. Many events such as this later. Few changes later.
One of the most frustrating things has been how the argument has been divided into “Anti Gun” and “Pro Gun.” Most people understand there is a middle position where we can take responsible steps to curb some of the violence, while still allowing responsible and safe people to own and use guns. Most people understand that the causes of these incidents include the overly easy availability of weapons, but are certainly not limited to that. Most common sense people understand there are many layers to this epidemic, and want to get to work on addressing them.
Instead of being “Anti Gun” or “Pro Gun”, more people need to be “Anti Murder,” and “Anti Violence”. It has to become a bigger priority that we stop hurting and killing each other so much.
We need to work together, and find the middle ground where positive steps can be taken to stop more innocent people from being killed simply for doing things like going Christmas shopping, going to a movie, going to a concert, going to church, or going to school.
Steven and Cindy should still be with us, continuing to help people and make the world a better place. Honor them and other victims by helping to create a world where less of these senseless tragedies are allowed to happen.