LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — After learning that his cousin’s car was parked at the King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado during Monday’s shooting, David said he watched hours of coverage.
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“We just all had fingers crossed throughout the whole night,” he said. “And then around 3:30 a.m., I got the phone call that the coroner reached out to her mother, and her mother ended up calling me.”
As a child, David lived with Tralona Bartkowiak, one of 10 people killed in the mass shooting, in the same San Fernando Valley home.
“This is me as a little boy, and her probably 20 years old, maybe 25,” he said looking at old photographs.
He said Bartkowiak, who was 19 years older, helped raise him.
“It’s just really sad that she’s gone,” David said. “It’s unbelievable. She had the biggest heart. She’s the most loving person I’ve ever met in my life, and it’s just so devastating.”
Daniel, a family friend, grew up down the street.
“Every time you saw her, she had a smile on her face,” he said. “I don’t think I ever saw her angry.”
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David said his cousin was a gifted artist who moved to Colorado roughly a dozen years ago to run the family’s clothing line business.
“She was the backbone of this family,” he said. “She’s the backbone of that company.”
He said he picked out his outfit to speak with CBS Los Angeles Tuesday specifically to honor her work.
“The best, the most enlightened you’ve ever seen in your life, met in your life, held in your arms in your life,” he said.
David said the loss has been especially painful because 49-year-old Bartkowiak was always the peacemaker in the family.
“She was the go-to to talk to and always squashed the issue,” he said.
According to David, Bartkowiak recently got engaged and was the happiest she’d ever been.
Another victim of the shooting, 61-year-old Kevin Mahoney, lived in Los Angeles County until the mid-90s.
I am now pregnant. I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter.
— Erika Mahoney (@MahoneyEb) March 23, 2021
His daughter, Erika, who works in radio and lives in Carmel, tweeted out a picture of them during her wedding last summer.MORE NEWS: Woman Reported Missing In Rowland Heights Found
“I am heartbroken to announce that my Dad, my hero, Kevin Mahoney, was killed in the King Soopers shooting in my hometown of Boulder, CO,” she wrote. “My dad represents all things Love. I’m so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer.”