Huddling together over candles lit from the same flame at Milwaukee City Hall, family and friends remembered the three victims of the shooting at Azana Spa & Salon in Brookfield one year ago to the day Monday.
Photos of Zina Daniel, Maelyn Lind and Cary Robuck looked on as teary-eyed loved ones shared long hugs and talked about the lives the women led and what could be done to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.
"Every time you lose a loved one, it seems it only happened two minutes ago, because the pain is still there. And it seems as though it happened many years ago because of the loneliness," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said at the vigil. "What's important is that you take those memories, memories that seem distant and memories that seem close, and meld them together so we can keep these three women in our hearts."
Along with Barrett and City of Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto, several people who knew the victims spoke before the crowd of about 100, still grieving and searching for a way forward.
"When I try to wrap my head around what happened, the only word I can come up with is senseless," Shawn Scheffler, who was Robuck's partner, said through tears. "She was our shining star...Never did she think this place of tranquility would become the place of her nightmares."
The three victims were killed by Daniel's estranged husband while they were working at Azana. Scheffler said he still asks himself why Robuck was killed. He wants to spread awareness about domestic violence so that others may prevent abusive relationships from escalating.
"Be aware that some men are going to try to control you," he said. "It starts small, but this tragedy shows it can end in the worst possible way."
Renee Parenteau, who said she cut hair next to Daniel for 10 years, also stressed the importance of recognizing early signs of domestic violence — signs she said she wished she had looked harder for in Daniel.
"She always wanted to talk about me instead," Parenteau said.
Parenteau told the group that she felt Daniel would want everyone to know she was sorry. Parenteau said she herself "somewhat knew the danger" of Daniel's relationship with her estranged husband, and was also sorry.
"She just wants to say, 'So sorry,'" Parenteau said.
Carmen Pitre, executive director of the Sojourner Family Peace Center, said Daniel was a client at the center and was doing "everything she could to save her life." She asked the crowd to be diligent in looking out for others who could be in an abusive relationship.
"If we can open the door for another person who's trapped, that would be a gift," Pitre said. "We should each decide ourselves to make a difference in helping someone."
Many in the crowd wore purple, the color for domestic violence awareness, as they remembered each victim for what they had accomplished and the people they had touched. Purple balloons in the crowd cherished them as "Azana's Angels."
Ralph Zalewski, Lind's friend, said that before the shooting Lind had fulfilled her dreams of becoming a beautician, wife and mother. "Unfortunately, the rest of her dreams were cut short, and she became a dream in the blink of an eye," he said.
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