A show of strength

One year after deadly shooting, community puts resiliency on display
By Nicholas Johnson | Aug 02, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson A dog glances at chalk drawings along a walkway at Lighthouse Park on Sunday, July 30. A drawing depicts a lighthouse featuring the names of those killed in last year’s shooting.

One year after a deadly shooting shook the Mukilteo community to its core, more than a hundred people came together at Lighthouse Park to celebrate the lives of those lost.

Anna Bui, Jake Long and Jordan Ebner were all 19 when a gunman – a former classmate – opened fire at a house party in the Chennault Beach neighborhood, killing all three and injuring a fourth: Will Kramer. The shooter is now serving a life sentence in prison.

Since then, the community has banded together, showing Mukilteo’s resilience in the face of an unspeakable tragedy. That resilience was on full display Sunday, July 30, as young and old gathered to laugh, eat and play together during a city-sponsored community picnic.

“It struck me that a lot of the people there, I remember seeing them in grief and sadness at this time last year,” Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. “To see them smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company was uplifting. People are clearly still hurting and will be for a long time, but for that afternoon I think we all felt happiness just to be with each other.”

Children used chalk to decorate a walkway with mini-memorials to the victims, families came bearing enough food for everyone, and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints handed out popsicles to help people beat the heat.

“Many of the young men and women who were in the house that night were out in the sun throwing a football around and playing croquet on Sunday,” Will’s father Paul Kramer said. “Our spirits were lifted enough that we could play together.”

Some broke away from the activity, taking time for personal reflection on the beach. Others embraced old friends, reveling in a bittersweet reunion of people who understand each other’s grief better than anyone else.

“Many are still grieving,” Kramer said. “That’s why it was so healing for us all to come together on the anniversary of the shooting. It strengthens our whole community when we can acknowledge the pain we’ve been through so it’s not ignored or forgotten.”

Bui’s older brother David Bui said his family came early and left early.

“The last year has been a mix of emotions,” he said. “It’s getting better, but it’s still really hard to explain how the families are feeling. It still feels like it just happened yesterday.”

Kramer said it’s been a long year of recovery, but his son has largely healed from his injuries and is excited to start his sophomore year at the University of Washington this fall. Throughout, he said he’s found strength in the support of his neighbors.

“It takes time,” he said. “When something horrific happens, it brings people together. It’s beautiful to find the support you need in a community that cares so much.”

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