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Health club shooting victims mourned

Funerals are held for Elizabeth 'Betsy' Gannon and Heidi Overmier, among three women gunned down in an aerobics class near Pittsburgh.

August 09, 2009|Associated Press

GREEN TREE, PA. — Before Elizabeth "Betsy" Gannon and two other women were shot dead and nine others were wounded in their aerobics classroom at a health club, the gunman paused to shut off the lights.

The priest who conducted Gannon's funeral Saturday said that was only fitting.

"Because that's what evil is all about -- cowardice. Evil can't function any other way but in the dark," the Rev. Francis "Bud" Murhammer told about 200 mourners at St. Margaret of Scotland Parish Church in Green Tree, a suburb south of Pittsburgh.

Murhammer was referring to the acts of George Sodini, a bitter loner who was unlucky with women and fatally shot Gannon, Heidi Overmier and Jody Billingsley before killing himself.

Overmier's funeral also was Saturday, a few miles southwest at the First United Methodist Church of Bridgeville, Pa., less than a mile from the health club in Collier Township, the site of Tuesday night's shootings.

Overmier's pastor, the Rev. Josephine Whitely-Fields, said Overmier's "life was suddenly ended in a senseless act of violence, and each one of us have felt the pain and sadness of her departure."

Overmier, 46, of Carnegie, was a single mother who doted on her 15-year-old son, Ian, worked as an amusement park sales rep, and was known at her church for annually writing and directing a Christmas play for children, complete with costumes she made.

Gannon, 49, of Green Tree, was divorced and didn't have children. She worked as an X-ray technician at a Pittsburgh hospital but was remembered more for spending time with her nieces and nephews, for her daily walks with her Labrador retriever and for the pride she took in her Irish heritage.

"Betsy was a beautiful, warm ray of sunshine to everyone she ever met," said Linda O'Brian, a childhood classmate and lifelong friend.

A funeral for Billingsley, 37, is scheduled for Wednesday in Franklin.

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