Victims of Jan. 10 honored
It’s a year late, but Ritadina Arriaga and Daisy Switzer finally had their meeting.
They chatted under a warm sun Thursday by Rood Administrative Center after joining 200 others in remembering the victims of the Jan. 10, 2001, shooting rampage.
Family members, victim advocates, law enforcement and county workers attended the 15-minute ceremony, which included dedication of a memorial stone.
Switzer was a Department of Behavioral Health Services intern, and Arriaga, Switzer’s client, was arriving for an appointment last Jan. 10. Through smoke-filled air that day, Arriaga said, she saw a gunman in the hallway, shattered glass and wounded bodies.
After leaving the building, Arriaga said, “I was desperately looking for (Switzer) after the shooting.”
“And I was laying on the ground, really hoping to get found,” Switzer said with a loud laugh.
Switzer escaped the gunfire, but broke several bones leaping from a second-floor window.
Killed at Behavioral Health were temporary receptionist Laura Wilcox and caregiver Pearlie Mae Feldman. Department supervisor Judith Edzards was seriously injured.
At Lyon’s Restaurant that same, blustery day, manager Mike Markle was killed and cook Rick Senuty was wounded.
Switzer and Arriaga were among others who talked about healing after the Rood Center ceremony – one of three gatherings Thursday.
“I think that the weather is so much better than it was a year ago – I think it just helps us to begin a new year,” Markle’s mother, Margie Markle, said.
Lyon’s general manager, Jeanette Tobol, attended, but said several workers went to Markle’s grave site in Butte County instead.
“Some of them still have a hard time with it. I do. I don’t know. It’s still strange,” she said.
Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Jewell, Feldman’s son-in-law, said the ceremony was doubly hard because Feldman’s husband died last month.
“When mom left us, dad was lost, and now they’re both together again. We know they’re rejoicing and would want us to get on with our lives,” Jewell said.
The deputy ran a gunsmith shop, but shut down the business the day of the shootings.
“I haven’t worked on anyone’s guns. I have no desire to work on guns, and firearms are a passion of mine,” he said. “Eventually I’ll get over
that, and I’ll do it as a hobby, but I’ve stopped doing it for the public.”
During the ceremony, county Supervisor Elizabeth Martin read a poem written by Environmental Health Director Norm Greenberg and made reference to the county’s new focus on mental health care.
“The only thing that could be said that is good, is I think we have learned where our priorities need to be,” she said. “I think this community has become a light for the state on some issues.”
In the morning, about 50 people gathered outside Behavioral Health to remember the victims and release balloons.
About 50 people were also at the county fairgrounds, where Edzards dedicated a bench. Its plaque reads: “For my friend Laura Wilcox and all whose lives were forever changed by the tragic events of 01-10-2001.”
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