Salon Meritage families remember lost friends and loved ones

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Photo by Charles M. Kelly Families and community gather together to remember those lost forever for ceremony marking a decade since the only mass murder in Seal Beach history
Photo by Charles M. Kelly
Flowers and candles adorn the physical memorial to the Salon Meritage victims, which overlooks the Eighth Street beach parking lot.

The 10th anniversary mememorial for the victims of the Salon Meritage shootings held Tuesday evening, Oct. 12, began and ended with a reading of their names.

Then, after sunset, the participants walked to the Seal Beach Pier, and cast flowers into the ocean.

The secion of Eisenhower Park near the physical memorial for the victims was full Tuesday evening with families, friends, firefighters, police comfort dogs from multiple agencies, and photographers.

Seal Beach Police Chaplain Don Shoemaker, who was the chaplain at the time of the crime, said, that on that day, nine peole got up just as everyone would.

“We’ve had 10 years now to heal,” he said.

However, as family members spoke one by one, they reflected on smiles never to be seen again, perfume never to be smelled again, and a grief that can still be felt a decade later. And there was anger that nothing had changed since Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011.

Police Chief Phil Gonshak thanked the families for inviting them.

Gonshak was among the responding officers on Oct. 12, 2011. He found David Caouette, who was shot while he was parked in a car outside the Salon Meritage shop.

Caouette wanted Gonshak to tell his family that he loved them.

Gonshak also interviewed the one shooting victim who survived her injuries, Hattie Stretz. Goshak said she gave him more information than any witness has ever given him.

“We still carry that day heavy in our hearts,” Gonshak said.

“As chief of police, I want you to know that we are all here for you,” he said, addressing the families

“I was the only one who survived,” said Stretz.

“Maybe it was God’s sense of humor,” Stretz said. “‘I’m not ready for Hattie.’”

The audience laughed.

“Now we’ve come together to celebrate out loved ones,” she said.

Roooney Daschbach, brother of Michele Daschbach Fast, said his sister got her hair cut twice a year. Daschbach thanked the chaplain, police, and firefighters and said they were all great.

“The city of Seal Beach was phenomenal,” he said.

Daschbach described the impact of the crime as exponential.

Salon Meritage families remember lost friends and loved ones