One of the three mental health workers slain Friday in Yountville was 26 weeks pregnant and about to celebrate her first wedding anniversary.
Another was a therapist who left behind a daughter and was remembered for her ability to work with troubled boys and their families.
A third had a passion for helping veterans deal with the stresses of life after combat.
An initial portrait emerged Saturday from the Yountville slayings of three professionals filled with life and committed to easing the suffering of others.
Even as friends and former colleagues awaited more details of the tragedy, they mourned Saturday the loss of Christine Loeber, 48, the executive director of the Pathway Home program at the Veterans Home of California; Jen Golick, 42, a staff therapist, and Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32, a psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
The three were shot to death Friday by Albert Wong, 36, an Army veteran who just weeks ago had been a resident under treatment at Pathway Home. Wong also was found dead inside the program’s headquarters in Madison Hall.
“Christine was really focused on the combat wounded and other veterans of this country,” recalled Deacon Carpenter, owner of YogaOne in Santa Rosa.
Carpenter got to know Loeber, a Napa resident, when she taught yoga classes part time at YogaOne’s former facility in Petaluma. She later taught a yoga class specifically for veterans at a Veterans Administration facility on Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa.
“She had such an ease and grace about her,” he said. He recalled her infectious smile and her ability to help people feel safe and cared for in her presence.
Gonzales Shushereba, who had been married a year ago this month, was pregnant with her first child. The baby did not survive, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday.
A Napa resident, she regularly visited her grandmother in Fairfield, said Vasiti Ritova, a friend of the family. Ritova’s sister had been a caretaker for the grandmother, and Gonzales Shushereba even spoke at the sister’s funeral two years ago.
“Jennifer was the perfect granddaughter any grandmother could ask for,” said Ritova, a Daly City resident.
Her husband, T.J. Shushereba, on Saturday evening released a statement from the family: “Today we mourn the loss of our beloved Jennifer: daughter, sister, wife, and mother-to-be. Jennifer and her colleagues died doing the work they were so passionate about – helping those in critical need.
“Thank you for the outpouring of love, support, and appreciation of the beautiful person that Jennifer was, and to the first responders and authorities involved. Jennifer was adored by all who knew her and will always be remembered for her unconditional love and incredibly giving heart.”
Gonzales Shushereba’s friends wrote on a GoFundMe memorial page that the young woman had “dedicated her life to helping service men and women reintegrate and readjust to civilian life. Every aspect of Jenn’s life was dedicated to others and her caring and kind spirit was evident to everyone she met.”
Before working in Yountville, Golick had been the clinical director for the Petaluma-based Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services. Scott Sowle, the agency’s founder and executive director, called her an exceptional therapist and “one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with.”
Memorial and benefit fund
A memorial will be held 6 p.m. Monday, March 19, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center on the Yountville veterans home campus.
A benefit fund has also been established by Pathway Home to provide direct support to the victims’ families. Donations can be sent to 3 Brave Women Fund c/o Mentis, 709 Franklin Street, Napa CA 94559.