“It hurt everyone.” Life ended with shooting in Florence
7 mins read

“It hurt everyone.” Life ended with shooting in Florence

“It hurt everyone.” Life ended with shooting in Florence


Before anyone wrote their names on makeshift memorials, lit candles at vigils, or started GoFundMe pages in their honor, everyone knew them for the lives they lived.

Hayden Rybicki, 20, shot videos with a camcorder, skateboarded with friends and had a knack for saying the right things that made people laugh.

Shane Miller, 20, loved fishing and being a big brother to his three younger siblings.

Delaney Eary, 19, volunteered in the student ministry program and enjoyed spending her evenings singing and dancing with friends.

Melissa Parrett, 44, worked, had a family and on Friday night invited friends to her home in Florence to celebrate her son’s 21st birthday.

All four were killed early Saturday morning, police say, when Chase Garvey entered a birthday party with a gun and opened fire. Yellow police tape now surrounds the home. A memorial of candles, flowers and stuffed animals lines the driveway.

More: Man who killed 4 people at Florence house party found free and armed despite felony conviction

Friends and relatives dropped by throughout the day Monday, talking quietly or saying nothing, still stunned that the house had become a crime scene. Some left small objects — a heart-shaped balloon, fishing lure from a recent trip — that connected them to lost lives.

“I just can’t find the words to describe it,” said Shawn Smeltzer, who called Rybicki his best friend.

The terrible news spreads quickly among friends and classmates

A week ago, he said, they were kayaking on the Little Miami River. They fished together, went to school together, grew up together. They were supposed to be at a birthday party together, but Smeltzer said he decided to stay home that night.

Rybicki spent his summer days skateboarding at Florence Skate Park and his winter days snowboarding at Perfect North, but friends say his creativity wasn’t limited to the park or the slopes. He decked out his Honda Civic into a low rider and shot video of other skateboarders on his vintage Sony Vx2000 camera.

“Every day was a new adventure,” said Porter Eggleston, another friend of mine.

At the skate park Monday, Eggleston and others struggled to imagine life without Rybicki. Eggleston described him as “the king of making people smile.” Arianna Manners said she will remember him encouraging her to pursue her passion for art, even letting her paint patterns on his prized camera.

“Everyone loved him,” she said.

No one more so than his family. Rybicki’s mother, Cherri McGuire, described him in her obituary as “an unexpected gift from God.” “I would do anything in the world to see you face to face and tell you how I feel and have always felt for you,” she wrote.

More: Police say surviving victims of Florence mass shooting are in stable condition

Florence is not a large city, so it didn’t take long Saturday for word of what had happened to sink in. Text messages, calls and social media posts quickly spread the terrible news to friends and former classmates.

Paige Robinson went to Randall K. Cooper High School with Eary and was involved in the Northern Kentucky Navigators Student Ministry. She came to the ceremony Monday with a bouquet of white, pink and purple flowers.

She had trouble speaking in the past tense about her friend. “She’s so joyful,” Robinson said. “She’s such a light in everyone’s life.”

She said Eary worked at the bakery at Costco and she often saw her around town in Florence.

Smeltzer said Eary had gone to a birthday party with Rybicki, whom she had recently befriended. Friends said she had previously dated Garvey, although police have not said whether that relationship had anything to do with the shooting.

For the friends of those who died, nothing could explain what happened on Saturday morning.

“It hurt,” Robinson said. “It hurt for everybody.”

What do we know 4 killed, 3 injured at house party in Northern Kentucky

“It’s happening everywhere now”

Miller’s sister, Paris Miller, said her older brother went to the party to celebrate and meet up with friends, including Eary. Like her and some of the other partygoers, he attended Cooper High.

Paris Miller described her brother as an “old soul” who was quiet, caring and relaxed. Although he was only 20, she said, he was a constant, joyful presence in her life and in the lives of her brother Brayden, 15, and sister Audrey, 6.

“He loved all the people close to him,” she said.

She said Shane enjoyed the outdoors, especially fishing. Family and friends shared photos of him smiling while kayaking and standing on green hillsides. “He was a shy, quiet, beautiful soul,” his sister said.

Melissa Parrett, known to some as “Missy,” threw a birthday party for her son, Brendon.

For the past eight years, she worked at Toyota Boshoku America in Erlanger, where she was a human resources specialist. While there, she started a company bowling team to raise money for a one-on-one mentoring program with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati.

“Missy’s commitment, hard work and positive attitude have made a lasting impact on all of us,” said Naomi Umemura Diedrichs, a company spokeswoman.

Bonnie Hoepker, who lives across the street, described the Parrett family as good neighbors. She said the only trouble she saw at their home was Saturday morning, after 2 a.m., when she was awakened by gunfire.

“People were running, screaming and crying,” said Hoepker, 71.

For the rest of the morning, she said, shocked partygoers sat in her driveway and lawn, talking to police about what had happened. She said she gave them water and allowed one of them to go to the bathroom.

The shooting is one of at least 277 mass shootings in the United States this year. Last year, there were 656, the second-highest number in the past decade.

Still, Hoepker said, it was shocking that it happened in her own neighborhood, the sight of police tape and the sight of mourners building a memorial on the lawn just across the street.

“I know it’s happening all over the country,” Hoepker said. “It’s happening everywhere now.”

Several memorials and vigils are planned for Tuesday. They will include an evening of community prayer from 6 to 8 p.m. at Crossroads Florence and a drive-thru vigil at 7:30 p.m. at Crestview Hills Town Center.


Florence police chief speaks out after mass shooting that leaves 4 dead

Florence Police Chief Jeff Mallery speaks after shooting that left four dead and three wounded. The shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.