Just hours after her father and son were shot and killed in the parking lot of a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kan., Mindy Corporon spoke at a vigil for the victims Sunday night, surprising mourners.
"I am the daughter of the gentleman who was killed and the mother of the son who was killed," Corporon said, eliciting a gasp from the crowd inside the United Methodist Church. "I was there before the police and I was there before the ambulance. And I knew immediately that they were in heaven, and I know that they're in heaven together."
Her father, William Lewis Corporon, had driven her son, Reat Griffin Underwood, a 14-year-old high school freshman, to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City to audition for "KC Superstar," an "American Idol"-style singing contest. Both were shot in a car William was driving. Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old man with a history of anti-Semitism, has been arrested.
William Corporon died at the scene; Reat later died of his injuries.
"I got to tell both of them today that I loved them," she added. "I was the last person in the family who saw them."
"He's a fantastic young man," Tim Howy, a local pastor, told KMBC-TV, describing Reat. "Funny, willing to be the life of the party. Incredibly gifted."
Angela Wright, one of Reat's classmates at Blue Valley High School, recalled him as "a beautiful person" who "brought smiles to everybody."
"We were in choir together," Wright told ABC News. "I used to make faces at him sometimes. He made faces at me as we were singing."
Reat had a "beautiful voice," his friends said. He sang the national anthem at a recent school breakfast, and his "talents were on full display that morning," school Superintendent Tom Trigg told CNN.
Mindy said that her father, a doctor, offered to take Reat to the audition because she was with her other son at a lacrosse game.
According to family members, William Corporon "cherished his family," moving from Oklahoma to Kansas to be closer to them.
"This is one of the nicest, kindest, most supportive families that we have here," Jacob Schreiber, president of the community center, said. "This has left us all breathless."
A third victim, a woman, was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Village Shalom Retirement Community in Leawood, Kan. Police have not released her name.
Cross was arrested and charged with premeditated first-degree murder. He was seen in local footage shouting "heil Hitler" from the back of a squad car.
At a news conference Sunday, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said authorities "are investigating this as a hate crime.”
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