- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

GENEVA, ALA. (AP) - A mother and her little girl who were gunned down in last week’s mass shootings in Alabama were buried together Sunday, the child in her mother’s arms, as hundreds of mourners struggled to understand why they were killed by a local man who took his own life.

The Rev. Mike Clarensau told more than 400 mourners that 19-month-old Corrine Gracy Myers is with the angels, and probably teaching them lyrics to her favorite children’s tune, “Skinnamarink.”

Clarensau asked people to pray for the child and her mother, 31-year-old Andrea Myers, and the eight others slain by Michael McLendon during a 24-mile shooting spree.

The two were the wife and daughter of Geneva County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Myers, who joined in the pursuit of McLendon before learning his family members were among the victims.

Mourners tearfully listened to the girl’s favorite song, which always made her dance and smile, Clarensau said.

The Myers’ other daughter, 3-month old Ella, was injured by shrapnel but survived. She was released from Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., on Thursday after the shrapnel and a blood clot were removed from her leg.

The couple’s 4-year-old son Issak was not injured in the attack. Andrea Myers, a blonde with a perfect smile, once served as a volunteer firefighter and was a fiercely independent woman who was so confident she thought nothing of wearing a bikini even when 7 months pregnant.

Friends and family remembered some of what made her unique: She had a 6-foot python for a college roommate, could take on anyone in a jalapeno-eating contest, dressed up for Halloween and went trick-or-treating into her 20’s, loved bugs and crawdads, and proposed to her husband _ even getting his parents’ blessing first.

The mother and daughter were buried in a white casket surrounded by colorful flowers. Family photos were on a table nearby.

“This is a journey that hurts _ a journey that makes no sense to us,” Clarensau said. “How do we face the valley of the shadow of death? We hold onto God.”

Some said they couldn’t imagine what the sheriff’s deputy was going through. Joe Newsome, an emergency medical technician, was sent to the porch in a quiet Samson neighborhood where Myers, her daughter and three other people were shot Tuesday. Newsome said being called to an emergency and then finding out loved ones are among the victims is unthinkable.

“I can’t even imagine it, I cannot,” he said. “I wished I could so I can be there for him more, but I can’t imagine what it would be like.”

Authorities said McLendon, 28, was apparently depressed over his failures in life.

He started his spree by killing his mother, Lisa McLendon, 52, at the home they shared near the isolated community of Kinston. Then he went to the home of his uncle, James Alford White, 55, who lived across the street from the Myers’ yellow home. Andrea Myers and her children visited the Whites several times a week and were there when McLendon drove up and opened fire.

White was also killed, as were his daughter, Tracy Michelle Wise, 34, and her son, Dean James Wise, 15. McLendon gunned down his grandmother, Virginia E. White, 74, on an adjacent porch.

Afterward, he sprayed bullets from his car window as he drove through town, killing James Irvin Starling, 24, as he walked along a street and Sonya Smith, 42, as she walked out of a gas station.

Bruce Wilson Maloy, 51, was shot and killed when he tried to stop the rampage by using his pickup truck to ram McLendon’s car. McLendon then drove to a Geneva metals plant where he worked several years ago. He ran into the business and killed himself after a gunfight with police.

More than 200 people gathered Saturday to remember Smith, the first victim to be buried.

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