Former Alaskan mourns daughter killed in Texas mass shooting
The day after a deadly mass shooting at a Texas high school, the nation has joined families in mourning the 10 people slain -- including one victim with Alaska ties.
"It hurts, a lot, a lot; this is the worst pain I have ever had," says Rhonda Hart who grew up in Wasilla, as she deals with a loss no parent wants to go through: the death of a child.
In this case, it's Hart's oldest, 14-year-old Kimberly. She died along with seven other students and two teachers at Santa Fe High School southeast of Houston, when investigators say a fellow student entered the school and opened fire.
"She was such a light, and such a joy, she didn't know any strangers, she would talk to anybody, she was amazing, she loved everybody," says Hart by phone from her home in Texas.
Kimberly had been in a first-period art class when the attack took place. Hart says she met with the medical examiner Saturday morning to learn more about what happened to her daughter.
"She was in a room with some of her friends -- she did not suffer," Hart said.
Suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis remains held without bail on capital murder charges after an initial court appearance Friday night. A newspaper report claims an investigator revealed the 17-year-old student said he only shot students he did not like, before exchanging extensive fire with officers.
Hart says her daughter did not know Pagourtzis.
Meanwhile, friends have set up at at least two GoFundMe pages to help Hart and her family.
They, and the other families of those killed, have even more help.
J.J. Watt is known in the Houston area for his charitable work. The defensive lineman for the Houston Texans has offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims -- news that came as a surprise to Hart Saturday.
"Oh my gosh, oh my stars! I have thought very highly of him for a long, long time," Hart said. "He reached out to us, not me personally, but, he was such a huge help during Hurricane Harvey last year, luckily, I only lost my car, did not lose my house, now, J.J. Watt has stepped up, I can't even believe that."
Hart has called Texas home since 2009, when her then-husband in the Coast Guard got transferred to Santa Fe from Kodiak. She has been around guns since her early days in Alaska, and then the Army where she briefly served.
Now Hart has taken aim at the gun industry, and wants stricter controls on it.
"I want people to speak out and fight for Kim," Hart said. "We can't have this happen again."
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