An Army veteran who served in Bosnia and Korea. An ad salesman for the student newspaper. An aspiring teacher. A talented violinist.
Poignant portraits began to emerge Friday of the five young lives that were cut short in a hail of gunfire Thursday when Steven Phillip Kazmierczak unleashed his rage inside a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University.
The victims, all from hometowns in Illinois, were identified Friday by area coroners as Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Julianna Gehant, 32, of Mendota; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; and Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester.
Garcia loved working with children and was studying to be a teacher, family members told the Chicago Sun-Times. “She was adored by our family because she wanted to become somebody in life — that’s why she was going to school,” Jacinto Garcia, her father, said in an interview with Evanston, Ill., radio station WOJO-FM. A 2006 graduate of Morton East High School in Cicero, Garcia worked on the school yearbook and belonged to a dance group. She had just visited the family’s home in the southwest Chicago suburbs before returning to the Northern Illinois campus on Saturday.
Parmenter, was a sophomore finance major, according to the Northern Star, the university’s student-run newspaper. Parmenter worked in the Northern Star’s business department, selling advertising. According to the Argus Press Spectator of Villa Park, he was a graduate of York Community High School in Elmhurst. He played rugby and was hoping to intern at the Chicago Board of Trade this summer, the newspaper said.
'He took care of everybody'
"He was one of our most wonderful kids," newspaper adviser Maria Krull told the Chicago Tribune. "He took care of everybody. He was prompt, smart and very attentive. I could depend on him for everything."
Slideshow: Deadly attack Relatives said Gehant recently retired from active duty with the U.S. Army, where she had attained the rank of staff sergeant after 12 years in which she was stationed in Hawaii, Bosnia, Japan and Korea. “We told her not to re-enlist, just come home,” Gehant’s aunt, Tina Pocius, told the LaSalle, Ill., News Tribune.
Christine Benson, a teacher at Mendota High School in northern Illinois, from which Gehant graduated in 1994, recalled her as an artistic student who sang in the school’s choir for four years, according to the newspaper. Gehant also planned to become a teacher.
"I told her I wanted to be one of the first ones to give her a recommendation" for the job, said Retired drama teacher Dave Schroeder. "It's just a terrible loss."
Mace was a 2006 graduate of Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville in Kane County, Ill., about 35 miles northwest of Chicago. In an interview with the Daily Herald, Mark Bettcher, the high school’s musical director who had known Mace since she was in the sixth grade, recalled her as a gifted violinist who had a lively sense of humor and was very popular with fellow students. “She was really funny, always going back and forth joking wise," he said.
Her mother, Mary Kay Mace, told the Daily Herald that the young woman “was the best kid anyone could hope for. She would never cause a second of trouble. Everybody loved her."
Dubowski was a sophomore anthropology major at NIU. She was from the Chicago suburb of Carol Stream, Ill. "She was a good person with a big heart," said a friend, Kelly Cavanaugh, who met her at the DeKalb Church of Christ.
Dubowski graduated from Glenbard North High School in 2006 where she sang in the choir, said Principal John Mensik.
Amanda Kent, 21, a fellow NIU student, said she was in Dubowski's second year Russian class and saw her Thursday before the shooting.
"She was very sweet. She was sort of shy, but always had a smile on her face," Kent said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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