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Bellevue Sonic dedicates memorial to shooting victims

Bellevue Sonic dedicates memorial to shooting victims

Friends and family mourned, prayers were heard and tears were flowing.

The Bellevue Sonic Drive-In — where two people were killed and three were injured in a November 2020 shooting — dedicated a memorial to all victims on Monday.

With the memorial, comes the closing of a horrific chapter in the Bellevue community and the possibility of closure for friends and family.

The space features a fireplace with a continual flame and a plaque in memoriam of Nathan Pastrana and Ryan Helbert, who were killed, and to honor survivors Zoey Reece, Atalig Lujan, and Kenneth Gerner.

A ceremony featuring several speakers preceded the unveiling of the memorial. A poignant moment came when Lujan addressed the crowd.

Faye Atalig, Zoey’s mother, said she was not surprised when her daughter wanted to come up to talk to everyone.

“Zoey has always been like, no fear type of attitude, she’s always had that,” she said. “It doesn’t surprise me by what she does.”

Atalig said she hasn’t thought about the night of the shooting but has instead focused on her daughter’s recovery. She is surprised every day by what her daughter can do.

“I just kind of let her do her and I’m just there to support her is really what I’m doing,” Atalig said.

She said it has been awesome to see the memorial come together.

“She was happy, she was excited to see what they did here,” Atalig said of Lujan. “She actually has a rosary that she wants to put up at the tree.”

There is a tree just south of the Bellevue Sonic adored with several mementos to memorialize the victims of the shooting.

Atalig said she has not given an interview regarding her daughter since the night of the shooting.

“She (Zoey) is willing to speak so I guess if she is willing to speak, I can speak as well,” Atalig said.

She thought the recovery process would be harder on her than her daughter, but was proven wrong by Zoey.

“I can’t be mad if she is not mad is my thought behind it all,” she said.

Franchise owners of the Sonic at 1307 Cornhusker Road, Amy and Bryant Morrison, both spoke about the decision to create the memorial.

“We needed to do something to remember this, and not in a negative way, but to just start the healing process and to remind everyone how fragile life is,” Amy said.

She and Bryant got inspiration from other fireplace memorials around town and thought it would be a great for what they wanted to do.

Mayor Rusty Hike said the city has seen so much support for other tragedies over the years, so it was no surprise to see the community at the memorial.

“The community steps up in Bellevue and really supports the Sonic family and the people who have lost their loved ones and those that are recovering,” Hike said.

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