Victims of the Cascade Mall shooting in Burlington were remembered by family and friends Saturday.
When Evangelina Lara heard commotion at the Cascade Mall on Friday evening, she feared the worst. Her 16-year-old daughter, Sarai Lara, was inside Macy’s and she could not get to her from across the mall.
Seven hours later, her fears were confirmed. Lara, a Mount Vernon High School sophomore, was one of five people killed when a gunman opened fire in the Burlington department store. The victims ranged from Lara to a 52-year-old Macy’s employee to a 95-year-old woman at the mall with her daughter.
“It’s not fair what happened to her,” Evangelina said of Lara, speaking through a translator Saturday evening in the family’s kitchen, surrounded by at least a dozen friends and family members.
Born in Mount Vernon, the high-school sophomore was bright, smiley and her mother’s “right hand” at home with the family, Evangelina said.
Sarai balanced a wide net of friends at school with helping at home, especially with her 5-year-old sister. The family has Mexican roots, and Sarai was proud of her heritage, her mother said.
In her free time, she enjoyed going out with friends, texting and shopping, Evangelina said. Family and friends remember her as “the perfect child.”
“She was the most beautiful girl in Washington,” her mother said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“She was too young to get murdered like that,” said her 19-year-old brother, Salvador Lara.
Another victim was Chuck Eagan, a longtime Boeing maintenance worker from Lake Stevens, said his aunt, Carol Thrush. She said Eagan and his wife were out for a dinner and shopping at the mall, and they had made their way to Macy’s when the shooter opened fire.
Thrush said Eagan and his wife began running, but his wife fell down as she was trying to get away. As Eagan helped his wife, he was shot, Thrush said.
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Thrush said Eagan, who had two daughters, was planning on retiring from Boeing next year with hopes of doing some travel.
“He was just a wonderful person,” Thrush said.
Another victim is believed by her family to be Shayla Martin, a 52-year-old from Mount Vernon who worked as a makeup artist at Macy’s. Martin’s sister, Karen Van Horn, declined to talk Saturday evening.
“We’re really having a tough time right now,” Van Horn said in a brief phone call.
Van Horn, an employee at The Herald in Everett, told the newspaper that family members hadn’t heard an official confirmation she was among the victims, but a witness told them her younger sister was among the dead. Van Horn described Martin as an avid reader who was both classy and practical.
“She was so sweet,” Van Horn told The Herald. “She was just very independent. She wanted to make her own way. She didn’t want to rely on anyone else.”
Blanca Mendoza, a co-worker of Martin, saw her earlier on Friday night in the cosmetics department. The cosmetics section was busy with customers, so Mendoza had gone to help — something for which Martin always expressed appreciation.
“She thanked me for always coming when they call for help,” said Mendoza, 23. She recalled Martin as a sweet co-worker who would always say hello, strike up a conversation and joke that Mendoza should come work with her in cosmetics.
Mendoza was inside the mall when the shooting happened, but was away on her break.
Meanwhile, a family member identified Belinda Galde, 64, and her mother as victims of the shooting but declined further comment. KIRO identified the mother as Beatrice Dotson, 95.
Galde worked as a probation officer out of Arlington for Snohomish County District Courts, according to the Washington State Courts website.
The district court issued a statement late Saturday calling her death “an unimaginable and tragic loss.”
“Belinda was a devoted and esteemed public servant for our court since 1989,” working to “ensure public safety and dedicated her life to assisting those who stumbled along the way in life,” the statement said.
“She was an amazing kind and caring individual who was much adored by her friends, her coworkers and the thousands of probationers who she helped find a better way to live.”