Christ­mas mas­sacre sur­vivor join­ing walk­out

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — Ka­t­rina Yuzef­pol­sky was 8 when a man dressed as Santa Claus shot her in the face and killed nine of her fam­ily mem­bers with guns and a home­made flamethrower at a Christ­mas Eve party in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

More than nine years later, Ka­t­rina is 17 and join­ing a grow­ing num­ber of teenagers who have sur­vived gun vi­o­lence and are de­mand­ing change to weapons laws. She and stu­dents across Cal­i­for­nia and the U.S. are walk­ing out of their schools for 17 min­utes on Wed­nes­day — each minute rep­re­sent­ing a vic­tim of the Feb. 14 shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Florida.

Ka­t­rina and her close friend cre­ated a video to help spread the word about the walk­out at their school in Pasadena, telling peers that it’s their “duty to stand to­gether as a gen­er­a­tion to de­mand change.”

“I’ve lived through it, and I’m still liv­ing my life as best as I can,” she said. “It’s not stop­ping me, it’s not in­still­ing fear in me. I want that change. I don’t want other fam­i­lies to go through what me and my fam­ily went through.”

Ka­t­rina was the first one shot when her aunt’s ex-hus­band, Bruce Pardo, burst into her grand­par­ents’ home on Christ­mas Eve in 2008. He im­me­di­ately be­gan shoot­ing, then used the flamethrower to torch the house in Cov­ina, 30 miles (48 kilo­me­ters) east of Los An­ge­les.

Pardo killed his ex-wife, who had re­cently di­vorced him, and eight of her rel­a­tives. He killed him­self shortly af­ter­ward.

Ka­t­rina un­der­went surgery to re­move bul­let frag­ments and close the wound in her cheek that she got be­fore es­cap­ing.

Her mother, Leti­cia Yuzef­pol­sky — who also es­caped the mas­sacre with her other daugh­ter — has worked to make life as nor­mal as pos­si­ble for her girls and for her niece, whom she adopted af­ter the girl’s mother died in the at­tack.

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