IHOP SHOOTING: Community seeks help with grieving

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealAlbert Atwell of Carson City arranges flowers from his garden at the Nevada State Veterans Memorial on the capitol grounds on Wednesday afternoon.

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealAlbert Atwell of Carson City arranges flowers from his garden at the Nevada State Veterans Memorial on the capitol grounds on Wednesday afternoon.

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In the aftermath of the deadliest shooting in Carson City's history, which left five dead, including three National Guard members, the community is looking for ways to heal.

Cpt. William Ohler was one of several chaplains and psychological health professionals available to National Guard airmen and soldiers statewide Wednesday to help them work through a range of emotions from Tuesday's violence. He said he spoke with soldiers all day at the joint headquarters in Carson City, and dozens were counseled across the state.

"They're shocked, and there's some level of disbelief," Ohler said. "So many of the people I work with knew them personally. They're asking 'Why?' They're just confused."

Eduardo Sencion, 32, arrived at the IHOP restaurant in Carson City just before 9 a.m. Tuesday and opened fire with an AK-47, shooting five National Guard soldiers who were having a meeting there along with six others, before turning the gun on himself. Five people died, including the gunman.

The three killed Tuesday match the total number of casualties suffered by the Nevada National Guard throughout the decade-long war on terrorism.

"It's harder to process because it's just unexpected," Ohler said of Tuesday's violence. "When it's oversees in a combat zone, it's a little less of a surprise. When it's a deranged individual doing it at home, it's a little harder to deal with."

Ohler said he has personal relationships with all five of the guard members, including the three who died.

"It does make it very difficult," he said. "But as a chaplain, that's what I'm called to do - to be there for soldiers in their time of need."

Although it will be a long process, he said, they will heal.

"We're a very strong family in the Nevada National Guard," Ohler said. "While this is a traumatic event we will remember for generations to come, we will pull together. We will recover and we will continue mission."

To others who are grieving, he advises them to seek support.

"Don't go at it alone," he said. "Talk with your friends and your loved ones. Don't internalize anything. Draw near to God in this time."

For those needing additional support, Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services is providing free grief counseling to anyone affected by the shooting.

"A tragic event like this can forever change the lives of those involved, and we want people to know that they are not alone," said Cathy Dinauer, vice president of patient care at Carson Tahoe. "Our hearts go out to the victims, and we want community members to have a lifeline to better understand and deal with the overwhelming emotions that accompany a tragedy."

Flowers for the victims have been left outside the IHOP, and candles were placed along the Statue of the Fallen Soldier at the Capitol Complex downtown.

John Lawrence, owner of Autumn Funerals and Cremations, wants to help the community express its grief. He set out four memorial books, one for each victim, in the chapel of the funeral home.

"This is a tragedy that affects every single one of us in this community," he said. "People need an outlet. They can write their condolences and express their sympathy. If they want to have a little prayer, they can."

The books will be available through Saturday evening, then will be delivered to the families.

Bryan McGill, owner of Capital Classic Productions, has turned Sunday's Show & Shine Clash of Champions event, at the Carson City Harley-Davidson dealership, into a benefit for the families of the victims.

"We are looking for donations for raffles, so the proceeds can go to assist the families," he said. "Whether it is to help pay for flowers for the funeral or whatever they are in need of, we just want to be there to help."

Counselors were also available to speak with staff and students of the Carson City School District on Wednesday, said Superintendent Richard Stokes.

He said teachers were also encouraged to help students work through their emotions and learn from the events.

"It's a good time to explore ways to look at issues in ways that are productive and not destructive," he said. "To realize to the humanity of trying to get along with each other."

Ways to get involved

Grief counseling

Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services is providing free grief counseling and support to anyone affected by the shooting.

To access this community resource, call BHS at (775) 445-7350. Those in immediate need of assistance should call the toll-free crisis line at (800) 283-7671.

Sign a memorial book for the victims

Autumn Funerals & Cremations, 1575 N. Lompa Lane, is setting up four memorial books dedicated to those who were killed in the shooting spree at the Carson City IHOP on Tuesday morning.

Director John Lawrence said he hopes it gives the community a way to express their sympathy. The books will be given to the families of the deceased.

People can sign the books from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. today; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Capital Classic Productions Show & Shine - Clash of Champions

The show & shine, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, at the Carson City Harley-Davidson, 2900 Research Way, will be a benefit for the families of the victims.

Entry fee for the show and shine is $15. No cost to spectators.

To donate to the raffle, call Bryan McGill at 775-690-3680 or email capitalclassics@sbcglobal.net.


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