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California and the West | Santee School Shootings

'He Had a Smile That Would Melt Your Heart'

Crime: Family and others who knew him recall Bryan Zuckor as a friend to all. He was gunned down last week in a rampage in Santee.

March 12, 2001|ELAINE GALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAKESIDE, Calif. — In the packed wooden pews at Lakeside Community Presbyterian Church on Sunday, family and friends of Bryan Christopher Zuckor came together to reflect on the life of the young track enthusiast and aspiring stuntman.

Zuckor, who was to turn 15 on April 3, was gunned down in the bathroom of Santana High School in Santee last week when Charles "Andy" Williams allegedly took a .22-caliber revolver to school and fired 30 rounds at schoolmates and others.

"Bryan is an innocent victim of the violence that's becoming all too pervasive in our society," said the Rev. Bob Mentze, pastor of the church.

Randy Voepel, mayor of Santee, and Karen Degischer, principal of Santana High School, spoke about Zuckor and his sense of style and warm spirit.

"He had a smile that would melt your heart and that's what I remember most," said Degischer. "I feel such sorrow, my words don't flow very easily. He'll miss the track season, but I know that all of our students will be inspired by him."

Track coach Dale Sheehan spoke about Zuckor's talent and how he "gravitated toward the pole vault," and how she wished she had had the opportunity to watch him "soaring high over that bar" for four years.

Granger Ward, superintendent of the Grossmont Union High School District, attended the funeral with Grossmont school board members. Students, many of whom wore purple and yellow ribbons, alternately cried and laughed as friends took turns speaking about Zuckor, about his antics and his "zest for life."

"He was in my math class and he always made me laugh and smile," said Laura Hawkey, a Santana student. "I'm really going to miss him."

In his eulogy, Mentze described Zuckor as a boy who enjoyed trips with his family to Disneyland and Canada. He collected coins and loved Legos and any outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, fishing and roller-skating.

"He was a very affectionate young man, not scared of a hug or of the words, 'I love you,' " said Mentze. "I never saw him be hateful toward anyone."

Besides dreams of becoming a stuntman, Zuckor was interested in being a veterinarian or a doctor like his grandfather, and watched surgeries on the Discovery TV channel to study anatomy and science.

The congregation sang "Shout to the Lord," one of Zuckor's favorite songs, said the Rev. Julia Leeth, associate pastor at the church. Zuckor is survived by his father and mother, George and Michelle Zuckor, and a sister and brother, Rebecca and Jeremy.

A memorial for Randy Gordon, the other student killed in the rampage, was held Saturday.

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