RENO — A member of the Nevada National Guard who saw three fellow guardsmen killed by a gunman at a Carson City IHOP is getting married this month in Reno.
Sgt. Caitlin Kelley told the Reno Gazette-Journal that her fiancé, Jason Koffarnus, a pilot in the Army National Guard, recently proposed to her after she told him that her priorities had "totally changed" since the rampage last month.
Eduardo Sencion, 32, who had been treated with medication for longtime mental problems, fired 60 rounds from an assault rifle on Sept. 6, killing four people and injuring seven others before killing himself.
Kelley, 25, was having breakfast in a corner booth with three fellow Guard members who were killed. She was shot in the foot, and now requires a wheelchair and crutches to get around. It will take about a year of surgeries and therapy before she can walk on her own.
"He’s so patient with me," Kelley said of her fiancé. "When I get impatient with my body, or when I cry. He’s so calm and reassuring, saying: ‘We’ll get there. Take your time.’ "
Kelley and Koffarnus, 31, began dating in 2005 after meeting at a party. Even when they had a son together three years ago, marriage still was not a serious consideration, she said.
But shortly after the shooting, they went to a store for groceries and she was afraid to get out of the car, she said.
"I really have trouble going into public places now. I’m always afraid," Kelley told the Gazette-Journal. "Intellectually, I know it won’t happen again, but emotionally, I’m terrified that everybody is a threat."
As they were driving away from the store, Kelley told Koffarnus that her priorities had changed and he agreed.
"He elbowed me and said ‘Will you marry me?’ " she said.
About two dozen local businesses are donating everything from food and flowers to a dance floor and wedding dress to ensure they enjoy the wedding of their dreams on Oct. 23.
"She deserves this," said Teri Bath of Garden Shop Nursery. "We thought it would be a nice community gesture for everyone to get involved and feel like they’re doing something good after a tragic event."
Kelley said the community support has been "amazing" and that the wedding has made "something good out of a disaster."
Since the shooting, she has undergone therapy and relaxation techniques to deal with the emotional trauma and nightmares.