Shooting victim was living out her call, family says
By Paul Black*
The sophomore from
Mace’s interests were diverse. She had an avid love of music and was an accomplished violinist and a choral singer. But family and friends said she most wanted to make a difference in her world.
“She would throw herself into a variety of things,” said the Rev. Miley Palmer. “She felt most fulfilled when she was helping others.”
Rev. Palmer spent part of his pastoral career in campus ministries, but said the tragedies at
“Certainly, there have always been tragedies on campus, but the sniper syndrome is fairly new and it’s scary,” he said. “Unfortunately, it seems to overshadow the lives of college students, who seem to be returning to a time of idealism and asking the tough questions as to what are the anchors in life.”
Palmer retired in 1998 as pastor of
Call to prayer
Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher, who leads the Illinois Great Rivers Conference where Mace’s grandfathers served, called on the church to offer prayers on behalf of the family.
“I am horrified and saddened by the tragic and senseless death of Ryanne Mace, one so full of life with a promising future still ahead of her. During the coming days, I know you will join me in prayer for the families and friends touched by her death and blessed by her life,” Christopher said.
“I hope you will also join me in serious reflection about how we, the church, might contribute to the ending of the anger, rage, and violence in our society that has contributed not only to Ryanne’s death but the deaths of many – not only on the NIU campus but in [other] schools throughout our country,” the Bishop said.
Mace’s parents, Eric and Mary Kay Mace, began phoning on the evening of February 14 to check on their daughter’s safety after hearing about the campus shooting. The school’s cell phone tower had been shut down by the flurry of calls on campus. Later, the Maces reached their daughter’s roommate, who confirmed that she had a class in Cole Hall at the time of the shooting.
According to eyewitness reports, a gunman dressed in a black shirt, dark pants and black hat came out from behind a curtain in the auditorium shortly after 3 p.m. and opened fire, sending the 160 students screaming, running, and in many cases falling to the ground. In all, 21 people were injured with five killed before the shooter turned the gun on himself.
In addition to Mace, the victims were Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester; Catalina Garcia, 20, of
On Feb. 15, authorities identified the shooter as Stephen P. Kazmierczak of
The Chicago Tribune reported that the school honored the gunman two years ago for his research on the
Comforting one another
Meanwhile in DeKalb, the director of the Wesley Foundation at
“Most of them have returned home to be with their families,” said the Rev. Efrain Avila Jr. “There have been and will continue to be professional counseling and spiritual guidance at each residence hall and academic building at
Related news, including updates on help for families of those affected will be available at www.firstumc.net, the website for the First United Methodist Church of DeKalb/Wesley Foundation.
Funeral services for Ryanne Mace were on Monday, February 18 at
*Black is Director of Communications for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of The United Methodist Church. Susan Dal Porto, Director of Communications for the Northern Illinois Conference, contributed to this report.