3 Lives Defined by Love, Taken by Gunman’s Rage

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A therapist who worked with visually impaired children. A doctor who did everything he could to help his patients. And the doctor’s grandson, a teen auditioning for a singing competition that could win him a scholarship.

Love defined their lives, friends and family said — lives that were cut short outside two Jewish centers near Kansas City on Sunday by a gunman long accused of spewing hate.


Terri LaManno, William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Reat Griffith Underwood (Credit: CNN)

That idiot absolutely knocked a family to its knees for no reason,” said Will Corporon, whose father and nephew were gunned down in the parking lot outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. “My dad should be seeing patients today at his work. … There is no reason. No reason for this. And it’s just a tragedy.”

The suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder after he allegedly opened fire at two Jewish centers. Organizations that track hate groups describe Cross, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, as a long-time white supremacist. Investigators say they plan to pursue federal hate crime charges against him.

As authorities built their case against the alleged shooter,friends and family shared memories about the lives of the victims he’s accused of killing.

Reat Griffin Underwood

The 14-year-old high school freshman had a “beautiful voice” and a “passion for life,” his family said.

He was at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday to audition for “KC Superstar,” an “American Idol”-style contest for the best high school singer in the Kansas City area. Shot in the car his grandfather was driving, Reat died later of his injuries.

Family members said Reat loved his school and his friends.

At a vigil Sunday night, Reat’s mom walked up to the podium and introduced herself as the mother and daughter of the community center victims. The gathered gasped.

Mindy Corporon then described her son as someone who loved acting and singing. His grandfather, who took him to Sunday’s competition, was also killed.

“I was there before the police and I was there before the ambulance,” she said. “And I knew immediately that they were in heaven, and I know that they’re in heaven together.”

“I got to tell both of them today that I loved them. I was the last person in the family who saw them.”

Tom Trigg, the superintendent of schools, said he had a chance to get to know Reat at a school breakfast event earlier this year.

“His talents were on full display that morning,” Trigg said. “I found Reat to be an engaging and exceptional young man.”

To begin the breakfast, Reat sang the national anthem.

William Lewis Corporon

A family practice doctor who moved from Oklahoma to the Kansas City area to be closer to his own family, Corporon loved spending time with his grandchildren.

That’s exactly what he was doing when he was killed on Sunday.

Corporon, 69,was taking his grandson to the center for his audition when they were shot in a car outside the facility.

Mindy Corporon said her dad had offered to take Reat to the audition because she was with her other son at a lacrosse game.

Corporon had been scheduled to see patients on Monday.

“My father leaves a huge legacy of community and of healing,” Will Corporon told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” “And it’s just unbelievable that a senseless, stupid act can cause so much hurt and grief and pain.”

Jacob Schreiber, president of the community center, remembered the family fondly.

“This is one of the nicest, kindest, most supportive families that we have here,” he said. “This has left us all breathless.”

The Corporons were active members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

“They have a deep faith. They don’t believe this was God’s time,” said the Rev. Adam Hamilton, the church’s pastor. “They don’t believe God wanted a man to pick up a gun and start this shooting.”

Now, Will Corporon said, the family is turning to their faith, and to each other.

“It absolutely provides comfort. Evil is evil, and no one in my family believes that God is doing this to punish us or cause us harm,” he said. “You know, evil people do evil things, and what we will rely on is our faith to get us through this, knowing full well that it’s only by the grace of God that we’re going to be able to pull together and come to grips with what’s happened.”

The funeral service for Corporon and his grandson is planned for Good Friday.

Terri LaManno

LaManno, 53, was visiting her mother at Village Shalom, a trip she made every Sunday.

Her Catholic church, St. Peter’s Parish, posted a message on its website describing her as “a loving mother and wife, and a gentle and giving woman.”

Tuesday would have been her 25th wedding anniversary, family spokesman Brian Fowler said.

She worked for eight years as an occupational therapist at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City.

On its website, the center described her as a “victim of the senseless shooting … at Village Shalom” and expressed sympathies to her husband and children.

“Terri was a gracious, generous, skilled and deeply caring individual who made a great difference in the lives of so many children and their families,” the center said.

On the center’s Facebook page, commenters sent prayers and condolences.

“We were immeasurably blessed by our time in therapy with Ms. Terri,” commenter Nicole Spence wrote. “Her love, patience, dedication and skill changed the course of our son’s life.”

In a statement, LaManno’s family said it was devastated by her death and asked for privacy as they grieve.

“My mom was a beautiful soul, she always thought of everyone before herself. The world needs more people like her. She was a warm, loving and beautiful person,” the statement said. “She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend that anyone could ask for. She lived for God and the people she loved.”