Members of courageous group take mission to Las Vegas
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we never again had to talk to Kathleen Larimer?
Better yet, what if the support group she joined through no fault of her own never had to embark on another mission such as the one completed this past week?
But because of the mass shootings in Las Vegas both things did happen. Larimer, of Crystal Lake, was a logical person to call for a story after the Las Vegas tragedy because she's been there: Her son John was among 12 killed in a 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. A Naval intelligence officer, he died shielding a date and a stranger sitting in the next seat.
The group is an informal coalition of families of those killed or injured by shooters, and they rally around the newest people who join this unfortunate club.
Larimer told me of the group and that it was headed to Las Vegas, headed by Anita Busch, who also lost a cousin in the Colorado shootings. The entourage included about eight people, all paying their own expenses.
"We are here to let our Las Vegas family of victims and survivors know that we are here for you -- and we do consider everyone who went through this our family," said Busch, of Los Angeles. "We are here both behind the scenes and out front, strongly advocating for your rights and making sure that you are not re-victimized while you grieve and go through surgeries and struggle with PTSD."
The help, especially when a shooting is so fresh, can be simple. "We are here if you only just want to look into the eyes of someone else who knows -- and get a hug," Busch said.
In addition to the emotional support, the group also provides help of a practical nature. It pushes the guidelines of No Notoriety, a group started by another family of the Colorado shootings. It encourages the media to keep coverage of the killers as low-key and fleeting as possible, so as not to inadvertently encourage copy cat killings.
Also, the families touched by these shootings can be victimized further, disappointingly, by charity. At play are fly-by-night charity groups. There also are the legitimate charities that have raised money in the names of the victims, but then give it away to other nonprofits. In several earlier mass shooting cases, families of victims got nothing, or close to it, Busch and Larimer say.
So Busch and her group spent Friday talking to Park County, Nevada, leaders about funneling all charitable donations into the National Compassion Fund, created by families of victims to ensure all the money gets to the families of those who died or were severely injured.
The support group struck one other positive blow from tragedy, creating a National Heroes Day, July 20, honoring those "whose selfless acts have saved lives."
One of its charter honorees was John Larimer.