Fiancee still grieves soldier killed in IHOP attack
Stacia Green didn’t need last week’s anniversary to remind her of the deadly shooting last year at Carson City’s IHOP.
She still thinks about it every day.
“I’m still grieving,” she said. “Even a year later, I don’t feel like I’m healed. I take it day-by-day, minute-by-minute. It’s been a year and the pain is still there. It’s always going to be there.”
Green’s fiance, Christian Riege, a master sergeant in the Nevada National Guard, was among the four killed when Eduardo Sencion, 32, opened fire with an automatic rifle inside the restaurant Sept. 6, 2011.
“What happened that day was pure evil,” said Green, 34.
Seven others were injured in the shooting before Sencion killed himself. Among the dead were three National Guardsmen, including Riege Lt. Col. Heath Kelly and Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney. Civilian Florence Donovan-Gunderson was also killed.
Shortly after the shooting, Green returned to work running the Camo Cafe at the Joint Force Headquarters of the Nevada National Guard. But it proved to be too much.
“The memories were just too haunting,” she said. “The pain was too much.”
So she returned to her hometown in Indiana to be near her family. Their support, along with her own faith, is helping her to cope.
“I know God has a plan, I just don’t know what that is,” she said. “I know God needed four good soldiers for his army.”
She’s also received support from Riege’s friends and colleagues in Carson City, as well as shooting survivors and their families.
“One of these days, I’m going to make it back out to Nevada and reunite with everyone,” she said. “I can’t wait.”
In the meantime, she said, she tries to do what she knows Chris would want her to do. She tries to find joy in life again.
“I keep telling myself to breathe, to smile, to laugh,” she said “I’ve tried to enjoy every moment in life I can possibly enjoy.”
It’s a constant struggle, however.
“I just miss him, and I want him back so bad,” she said. “I hate that he’s not here anymore.”
She focuses on her faith, looking forward to the day she will see him again.
“He’s got this huge mansion in heaven, and he doesn’t know how to decorate,” she said. “He’s waiting for me to decorate it and make our home complete again.”