Another School Shooting Victim Mourned

Monday, March 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SANTEE, Calif. – In the packed wooden pews at the Lakeside Community Presbyterian Church on Sunday, family and friends of Bryan Christopher Zuckor came together to reflect on the life of the young track enthusiast and aspiring stuntman.

The freshman, who was to turn 15 on April 3, was one of two killed last week when a 15-year-old gunman, Charles Andrew Williams, opened fire on his classmates, police said. Thirteen other people were injured.

Mr. Zuckor was shot in the back of the head in the bathroom where the first shots were fired. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Bryan is an innocent victim of the violence that's becoming all too pervasive in our society," said the Rev. Bob Mentze, pastor of the church.

Randy Voepel, mayor of Santee, and Karen Degischer, principal of Santana High School, both spoke about Bryan and his sense of style and warm spirit.

"He had a smile that would melt your heart, and that's what I remember most," Ms. Degischer said. "I feel such sorrow, my words don't flow very easily. He'll miss the track season, but I know that all of our students will be inspired by him."

Track coach Dale Sheehan spoke about the teenager's talent and how she wished she had had the opportunity to watch him "soaring high over that [pole vault] bar" for four years.

"Bryan was the kid who couldn't be stopped," said Mike Iglesias, the boy's coach on a community basketball team. "I saw him run into a post, fall down and get back up."

More than 600 mourners attended the service. Two large portraits of Bryan adorned the front of the church, along with the bicycle and helmet he used for gravity-defying stunts on his bicycle.

Students, many of whom wore purple and yellow ribbons, alternately cried and laughed as friends took turns speaking about the boy, his antics and his "zest for life."

"He was in my math class, and he always made me laugh and smile," said Laura Hawkey, a Santana student. "I'm really going to miss him."

In his eulogy, Mr. Mentze described the teenager as a boy who enjoyed trips with his family to Disneyland and Canada. He collected coins, loved Legos and any outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, fishing and in-line skating.

"He was a very affectionate young man, not scared of a hug or of the words, 'I love you,' " Mr. Mentze said. "I never saw him be hateful towards anyone."

Besides dreams of becoming a stuntman, Bryan was interested in being a veterinarian or a doctor like his grandfather; he would watch operations on the Discovery Channel to study anatomy and science.

The congregation sang "Shout to the Lord," one of the boy's favorite songs, said the Rev. Julia Leeth, associate pastor at the church.

Bryan is survived by his father and mother, George and Michelle, and a sister and brother, Rebecca and Jeremy.

A private burial followed the service.

The memorial was the third in three days for victims of the shooting at Santana. On Sunday, one of the injured, Raymond Serrato, remained hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the chest.