Members of the communities of Globe, Miami and San Carlos came together on Nov. 20 to hear words of encouragement from their respective leaders and learn about resources available to the grieving.
Gary McPherson, who was asked to open the meeting with a prayer, also spoke a few words, explaining that he lives in Globe and is pastor of a church in San Carlos.
Calling the Nov. 11 mass shooting in Globe a tragic thing, McPherson said that it shook up the community and caused a lot of fear.
“We forget that we are all one people. In the Master’s eyes, there is no color,” he said. “We need to get together.
“We need to delete the old negative stuff,” McPherson said, asking the audience to imagine if we loved each other the way that our Father intended. “We’ve begun to fail each other. We’ve got to get back on the right path.”
When it came his turn to speak, Globe Mayor Al Gameros offered condolence to all victims and their families.
“We are not shielded from this type of violence just because we are in a small town,” he said.
Gameros went on to say that in his 30 years as a firefighter, he has seen a lot of illness, destruction and death. “Even first responders need to reach out.”
He also gave a personal example of when his 22-year-old niece was killed in a murder-suicide three years ago in the Valley, saying that he knows what his brother’s family went through.
“It was devastating. we had to reach out for help beyond our family,” said Gameros, encouraging those grieving to take advantage of available resources. “This isn’t going to heal everything tonight.”
Miami Mayor Darryl Dalley began by asking for a moment of silence in memory of those who had died, after which he told shooting victim Charli Peak, who was in the audience, “I’m glad you’re still with us.
“Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children,” Dalley said. “I thought that only happened in the military.”
Dalley went on to say that while it was okay for the high school kids to have their school rivalry, “it’s time for adults to put their old-time differences aside.”
He said that community members were going to listen to those who attended the meeting and see them as leaders.
Dalley said that after the shooting, he heard talk that the San Carlos reservation would “never turn over that shooter — he’s out on the reservation,” which was not true.
“He will get is due justice,” he said. “We have to believe in our system.”
Dalley told people to be safe over the holidays, but not give into fear. “There is evil out there, but don’t be scared.”
When it came his turn to speak, San Carlos Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler also offered condolences to the victims and their families.
“At a critical time like this in our lives, we are left asking, ‘What do we do now?’”
Rambler called it a time to come together, a time to mourn and a time for grief.
“This is a time to support the families and friends that lost their loved ones and give them not just condolences but a helping hand,” he said. “We need to donate whatever we can to them in their time of need. We need to let them know that their communities are behind them. They need to know we are here for them.”
Rambler went on to talk about surviving a tragedy in his own life — the loss of his oldest son — who was stabbed in the heart at a party and died en route to the hospital.
“He was my firstborn, my first experience at being a dad and a parent,” he said. “He was my pride and joy,” but, unfortunately, his life was taken.
Rambler said he spoke to church leaders whose answers were universal: “Pray, do not depart from my faith, commit myself to seeing my son again, pray for my son’s soul, learn to forgive, and, in my grief and loss, do not forsake the living — my family, friends and neighbors.
“I chose to continue believing and trying my hardest to live the life I need to live,” he said. “It was hard, I still miss my son, but I am more confident than ever that I will someday see him again.”
Rambler said that, in the wake of the shooting, “we can choose to live in fear. Some of us may choose to take actions into our own hands, even choose to take out our anger and frustrations on innocent people.
“There is more power, there is more strength in us being unified, coming together. That is the bigger choice,” he said. “We can choose to stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder against hatred, divisiveness and violence, no matter our beliefs, our race whether we are rich or poor.
“After all, despite all our differences, we are one people: We are Americans,” Rambler said. “Together, united, we can never be defeated by the violence perpetrated by one.”
Globe Chief of Police Dale Walters reminded the audience that “we are not an island,” and that smaller communities need their partnerships with area law enforcement agencies.
He said that when he first took the post a couple months ago, he reached out to other agencies, knowing that their support would be “absolutely critical.”
Walters reminded the audience that it was the San Carlos Apache Police Department that took the defendant Sterling Randall Hunt into custody.
“If it wasn’t for them, we might not have him sitting where he is today,” he said.
Charli Peak, who was injured in the shooting at Jammerz Bar on Nov. 11, receives well-wishes from the public at the Nov. 20 community forum at Miami High School.