Mother’s faith offers comfort after Kansas City shootings

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United Methodist Mindy Corporon said she believes her son and father are in heaven after a gunman killed them April 13 as they sat in their vehicle outside a Jewish community center.

“I am lifted by my belief in Christ and by my belief that Reat and my dad are in heaven and I know that Mrs. LaManno is in heaven also,” said Mindy Corporon in an interview with the “Today Show” on April 15.

Reat Underwood, 14, and his grandfather Dr. William Corporon, 69, both members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kan., and Terri LaManno, a member of St. Peter’s Parish Catholic Church,  were killed April 13. The suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, is linked to anti-Semitic and white-supremacist activities.

Investigators are calling the shootings a hate crime. Barry Grissom, U.S. attorney for Kansas told reporters that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had expressed his concern and condolences. If convicted of a hate crime, Cross may face the death penalty.

The Anti-Defamation League said it warned last week of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers in the coming weeks, “which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler's birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism.”

Living on faith

The Corporon family held an April 14 press conference at their church. Mindy Corporon’s faith has been evident in many interviews following the shootings.

Mindy Corporon said she has asked the Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, why it is important for her to speak to the press and others.

Literally, when I saw my father lying there I heard God say "He is in heaven."--Mindy Corporon

“I have asked my pastor why it is so important (for me) to speak and why people are asking to interview me. … I have a peace about me. Literally, when I saw my father lying there I heard God say ‘He is in heaven.’”

Hamilton called her son, Reat, “a remarkable young man, full of life, gifted in so many ways.”

“He had amazing parents and family who loved him dearly,” Hamilton added. “He was with his grandfather, Bill, when they were both killed in this senseless act of violence. Bill was a  loved physician, father, grandfather and friend.  

“The family has a deep faith, and remarkable strength and courage. They don’t believe this tragedy was God’s will, but they do believe that Reat and Bill are safe in God’s arms. They believe that evil will not have the final word and that good will come from this tragedy and they want to towards that end, even in the midst of their grief.”

Moments after shootings

Mindy Corporon arrived at the community center minutes after the shootings because her father was taking her son to participate in the Kansas City Superstar competition. Underwood was prepared to sing “On the Street Where You Live,” and “You Will Miss Me When I’m Gone,” she said. Before he left for the audition, she said, “I got to kiss him and tell him I loved him.”

“My dad and my son were at the wrong place at the wrong time for a split second,” she said.

“He was with us for a wonderful 14 years; he had a really full life for a 14-year-old, and we were very blessed.”

Will Corporon, son of Dr. Corporon and uncle to Reat, said, “It takes no character to do what was done; it takes no backbone; it takes no morals; it takes no ethics. All it takes is an idiot with a gun.”

Dr. Corporon worked 40 hours a week seeing patients and spent all his free time with his grandchildren, Will Corporon said.

A few years ago Dr. Corporon and his wife Melinda moved to Kansas City to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

LaManno's Catholic church, St. Peter's Parish, posted a message on its website calling LaManno "a loving mother and wife, and a gentle and giving woman."

The Children's Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City, where LaManno worked as an occupational therapist, described her as a "gracious, generous, skilled and deeply caring individual who made a great difference in the lives of so many children and their families."

Dr. William Lewis Corporon and Reat Griffin Underwood will be remembered at 3 p.m. on Good Friday, April 18 in the main sanctuary of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The family has requested that donations honoring Dr. Corporon and Reat be made to The Blue Valley Education Foundation, The Church of the Resurrection KiDS COR, Boy Scouts of America and Operation Breakthrough.

Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615)742-5470 or [email protected].

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