After daughter’s death in Aurora mass shooting, these parents travel to others to help the survivors

Their road map could be dotted with blood.

Aurora. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Isla Vista. Last month, they were in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, they arrived in Thousand Oaks.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips have gone to the scenes of 11 mass shootings since 2012. That’s the year their daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was gunned down in a movie theater in Aurora, CO.

“It’s hell,” said Sandy Phillips, wearing a pin with her daughter’s picture. “You relive you own shooting all over again.”

Her husband interrupted; “It’s completely different every time,” he said.

When they arrive, they offer experience. Terrible experience. To anyone who will listen.

Sadly, they know well what happens next.

“People say there are five stages of grief,” Sandy said. “But the five stages bounce all over the place. And they continue. Righteous anger is OK. (Survivors) have every right to be angry. We should help them channel their anger in a positive way.”

They also warn survivors that there are people on the Internet who will deny that the Thousand Oaks shooting happened at all. The family and friends of the deceased will read that actors staged the event for political purposes.

“It’s something you can’t get away from,” Lonnie said. “We know too well.”

They woke up Thursday in Long Beach, the city where Sandy was raised. Lonnie said he turned on the television, and decided to wake up his wife. Soon, they headed north on the 405 Freeway.

When they arrive at a scene, they start talking about how, post shooting, no one feels safe.

“You can’t go to a nightclub,” Sandy said. “You can’t go to a movie. You can’t go to a place of worship.”

“My daughter went to a midnight movie and came home in a box,” Lonnie said.

They talk about guns. They talk a lot about guns.

“We have made it way too easy in our society to get our hands on guns,” Sandy said.

“We should at least know who has a gun,” Lonnie said.

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In the six years since their daughter’s death, they founded survivorsempowered.org. They try to connect survivors from each of the shootings with each other.

“Their lives have forever been changed,” Sandy said. “Survivor communities from coast to coast are here for them forever.”

They know their hellish road trip is not …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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