Relative of victims: Shooting was "a senseless, stupid act"
Terri LaManno was a therapist who worked with visually impaired children
Reat Griffin Underwood was a 14-year-old high school freshman who loved singing
William Lewis Corporon was Reat's grandfather and practiced family medicine
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.
“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, was convicted Monday of capital murder for opening fire at a Kansas Jewish community center and a nearby assisted living facility.
Organizations that track hate groups describe Cross, who is also known as Frazier Glenn Miller, as a long-time white supremacist.
While Cross can look ahead to spending the rest of his life in prison, friends and relatives of those he killed can look back to memories of his victims.
Reat Griffin Underwood
The 14-year-old high school freshman was dressed up in a coat, tie and hat on Sunday – ready to belt out songs for an audition that he hoped would win him a scholarship.
Tryouts for KC Superstar, an “American Idol”-style contest for the best high school singer in the Kansas City area, brought him to the Jewish Community Center.
For his first song on Sunday, Reat had planned to sing “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady,” his mom, Mindy Losen, told reporters.
If he had made it to the next round, he was ready to sing “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.”
That morning he practiced performing both numbers for Losen before his grandfather picked him up to drive him to the competition. For three years, the teen – who loved his school, singing, theater and debate – had been eagerly awaiting his chance to try out for the competition once he was old enough to enter, Losen said.
It was a chance he never got. Shot in the center’s parking lot in the truck his grandfather was driving, Reat died later of his injuries.
After her other son’s lacrosse game was canceled, Losen went to the center, hoping to hear him sing again. Instead, she happened to arrive just after the shooting, and found her father and son lying on the ground near the truck.
“I was there before the police and I was there before the ambulance,” she said at a vigil Sunday night. “And I knew immediately that they were in heaven, and I know that they’re in heaven together.”
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 gunned down outside the facility.
Losen said her dad had offered to take Reat to the audition so she could take her other son to his lacrosse game.
“He cherished his family, and more than anything had a passion for caring for others,” the family said in a statement.
The doctor 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.
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.”
CNN’s Ed Payne, Matthew Stucker and Justin Lear contributed to this report.