All stories begin in the midst of a larger story.
This is a story that revolves around three real events that involved life, death, loss, pain and controversy. The events are not related except by a thread of fiction that weaves them together into a tapestry that tries, somehow, to find meaning in the inexplicable.
- In 1995/1996, 43 wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park.
- In early December, 2012, a wolf left the protected boundaries of Yellowstone National Park and was legally shot by an unidentified hunter during hunting season. This wasn’t just any wolf, it was an alpha female, best known as "06 Female,” considered by some to be the most famous animal in the world, co-leader of Yellowstone’s Lamar Canyon pack. She was wearing a highly visible and expensive research collar. Her death threw fuel on an already hot battle between conservationists and ranchers, tourists and hunters, Park Service Employees and state hunting regulators.
- In 2015, four days after fall classes began on the Umpqua Community College campus of Roseburg, Oregon, a 26-year-old-male student armed with two hand guns entered a classroom and systematically killed an assistant professor and eight students. Several others were injured. The shooter later committed suicide. This shooting reignited the passion about better mental health services as well as the conflict between gun advocates and gun control proponents. It also sparked a flurry of claims that the shooting was a hoax, a government scheme to take away freedoms.
Real lives were lost in these events. Lives that ended before their time. They deserve to be honored. Here are the ones who were lost; innumerable are the ones who suffered.
In Roseburg, Oregon:
Lucero Alcaraz, 19, was described as “sweet, selfless, and innocent.” She wanted to be a pediatric doctor or nurse and had received an Umpqua Scholar award covering the full cost of tuition.
Treven Taylor Anspach, 20, was called a quiet leader by his basketball teammates. His coach said, "All he wanted to do in life was to marry his high school sweetheart, be a firefighter like his dad, and to serve others."
Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18, loved camping and being in the mountains and had just begun her studies to work in the medical field.
Quinn Glen Cooper, 18. Remembered as funny, sweet, compassionate and someone who always stood up for people, Quinn died on his fourth day of college.
Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59, was born in England and recently returned to college to work on a degree in science. Her daughter was also on campus during the shooting but was uninjured.
Lucas Eibel, 18, was a quadruplet who studied chemistry and loved animals. He spent one summer as a Junior Zookeeper at Wildlife Safari.
Jason Dale Johnson, 33, recently completed his GED and was in the process of turning his life around. He was excited about starting college.
Lawrence Levine, 67 (assistant professor), was a poet, writer and fly fishing guide. He was passionate about writing and a purist about fishing.
Sarena Dawn Moore, 44, was wheelchair bound and used a service dog named Bullet. Moore attended Umpqua Community College in pursuit of her dream to start a therapeutic horse ranch for people with disabilities. Bullett survived the attack and was returned to Moore’s family.
In Greater Yellowstone Environment:
Gray Wolf, #832F, also known as 06F, was the alpha female of the pack. She was killed by one bullet, but that bullet also destroyed the delicate social structure of the pack. While she lived, the Lamar Canyon pack had eleven members. Now there are only two and they may, or may not, survive.
Unnamed shooter at Umpqua, may whatever demons that drove you to this horrendous act be gone and your spirit rest in peace.
Unidentified hunter of #832F, who may still be living, may your motives be pure, your heart touched by the spirit of the animal whose life you ended, and your remaining life be filled with peace and compassion for all.
NOTE: In the following story, all characters are fictitious.
Any resemblance to actual living persons is completely coincidental.