Skylin Jamrowski had just received the worst news of her young life.
“Is my dad dead?” the 5-year-old asked her grandmother. For hours the family didn’t know, searching for facts of what had happened when police say a young white man started shooting outside and then inside a Walmart, killing 22 people and injuring two dozen more.
But yes, her stepfather — the man she called dad — was dead along with his wife. Skylin, the eldest of three children, had to be told. She responded with tears and a question about the killer: “Is he going to come and shoot me?”
Skylin is not alone, surrounded by the love of her remaining family. She has a younger sister, Victoria, and a baby brother, Paul Gilbert, 2 months old. The baby survived the massacre when his mom, Jordan Anchondo, shielded him with her body when she was shot. His father, Andre Anchondo tried to protect them both, relatives said.
“The shooter had aimed at Jordan. And Andre jumped in front of Jordan. And the shooter shot Andre, and the bullets went through Andre and hit Jordan,” said Misti Jamrowski, Jordan Anchondo’s mom.
Paul lost both his biological parents. Torie and Skylin lost their mom and stepdad.
“The sad thing is, is that even with all of us … it’s Mom and Dad. We can’t replace Mom and Dad. It’s just something you can’t replace,” said Paul Jamrowski, Jordan Anchondo’s father, as tears rolled from his eyes.
Skylin wasn’t at the Walmart when the shooting occurred. She was at a cheerleading class while her parents took the baby shopping for school supplies for Skylin’s first day of kindergarten.
Skylin’s aunt Leta Jamrowski said if she asks Skylin to stay close, the little girl will ask why.
“She’s like ‘Is it because of the bad guy, is he going to come too?’ ” she said. “It’s sad because she just turned 5. For a 5-year-old to have to think that already is inhumane.”
For the Jamrowski family, the pain is slicing across the generations.
Jordan Anchondo’s sisters are struggling in their own grief.
Still, the elder Jamrowskis have a plan. They have not been able to bury their lost loved ones yet but are committed to their faith and love — even for the accused gunman.
“We forgive him. We honestly forgive him,” said Misti Jamrowski. “We pray for him. We hope that he finds God because God teaches you to be loving.”