Library victims 'like family' to city
August 30, 2017
CLOVIS — The library may never be the same, but the memories of Wanda Walters and Krissie Carter are sure to endure long past the shooting Monday afternoon that killed both librarians and injured four others.
"She was such a sweet lady and her beautiful smile and caring attitude will be never forgotten. And forever missed," said Maria Lucero, reflecting on her many encounters across the years with Walters, a circulation assistant at Clovis-Carver Public Library.
Walters, 61, was speaking about overdue book fines with Vanessa Aguirre around 4 p.m. Monday when a teenager walked in and started firing a gun.
Aguirre said the first shot sounded like a small firecracker. When she realized what was happening, she fled with her son.
"I wish she would have ran out with me," Aguirre said. "It's going to take me a long time to go back there."
Lupe Aguirre said he saw people fleeing the building and ran inside to check on his wife and child. He found Walters on the ground, still holding the $10 cash for the fine.
"I said 'Are you OK ma'am?' and she said, 'No, I'm not OK.'"
Wanda Walters: always a smile
Louisa Rodriguez said she knew Walters the past 10 years through the Bethel Assembly of God church congregation.
"She always had a smile on her face and she always asked how my children were doing and me," said Rodriguez. "I've been through some tough times but she was always there for me emotionally and spiritually."
Pastor Lemuel Perry said it was like Walters to check in on others and provide encouragement, oftentimes quietly and discreetly.
"She did not necessarily have an easy life but still continued strong in her faith and ministering to other people," he said. "She was always very upbeat. You never saw her looking discouraged or upset."
Perry last saw Walters at Sunday night services, after which she provided a lift home to another woman in the congregation.
Walters did not have any immediate family in the area, said Perry, but she had a strong local community in her church. In at least 35 years with the congregation, she sang on the church praise team, served on various committees, helped at Nazarene Preschool and served previously as church secretary.
"She was quiet, unassuming, but very strong in her faith," he said. "We were her family, and she was our sister very much."
One of Walters' closest friends, Karen Book, submitted this statement to The News on Tuesday evening:
"She has been my best friend, my sister and my family for the past 35 years. Her family is my family and my family is her family," she wrote, in a statement read over the phone by her daughter. "She was the most selfless, sweetest person I knew. The outpouring of love and support is the only way we are getting through this unspeakable tragedy. I will continue to smile every time I think of her. And know she would only want our hearts to be filled with love and joy and not sadness or hate."
The Bethel Assembly of God will dedicate its service at 6:30 tonight to Walters, said Perry.
To the city of Clovis, Walters was also family, Police Chief Doug Ford said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
So too, then, was Krissie Carter, 48, a youth service librarian also killed during Tuesday's shooting.
Krissie Carter: the 'kindest loving soul'
"It wasn't real. It was like something from a movie. You never expect something like that to happen here in Clovis," said Micky Thanimith, who knew Carter since she was a child. "Just knowing now that when we do go to the library and it's kids' time, it's not going to be the same. It will never be the same."
With Carter around even the gloomiest day was a happy one, said Thanimith.
"She was the kindest loving soul in this town and would do anything for any child," she said. "Her life revolved around the children of this community. ... She was truly a saint. She was the golden heart."
Carter's influence on the children of Clovis was not restricted to the library. In the late 1990s at the high school, Carter left an impression on students there as an educational assistant.
"Everybody just loved her. I loved her," said Jessica FitzHarris, who graduated from CHS in 2001. "She would give the shirt off of her back for you."
"I couldn't sleep last night thinking about her," she continued. "It's still going through my mind. It's like a bad dream."
Rebecca Cordova said she knew Carter to be a reliable source for book recommendations or enrichment for her students, now as an elementary school teacher but even back in 2005, when she taught middle school.
"When I taught at the middle school we would go take field trips to the library and she gladly went and ordered a whole set of books just for my class," said Cordova. "If it helps the community she would do it. ... She was always wanting to help the kids succeed."
"I was going to email today for some help with finding something for the kids," she added. "She had a wonderful laugh and a radiant smile and she brought happiness to everybody. She was just a wonderful person with a big heart."
Monica Phillips said she grew up admiring her great-aunt's perpetual optimism.
"I never heard a negative word out of (Carter's) mouth once in my life," she said. "All in all she was just the most wonderful woman."
Phillips recalled a recent interaction with Carter, in which she wished her great-aunt a belated birthday greeting online and received a gracious reply.
"I said 'I'm sorry this is late but I love you and happy birthday,' and she wrote back, 'Oh I love you too and it's never too late.'"