Grocery store victim was 'shy,' 'innocent'on August 15, 2012 @ 2:50 pm (Updated: 9:32 pm - 8/15/12 )
Long, 40, walked to the grocery store across the street from his house, which was just a "stone's throw away," according to his sister. He picked up $27.54 worth of everyday items such as deodorant, aftershave, and a bottle of water.
He walked up to a checkout lane where cashier Claudia Jones was working. She often saw him at the store and said he would sometimes come in twice a day.
"I would help him with his purchases and always look forward to seeing him," said Jones, 55, a longtime resident of the Key Peninsula. "I always asked him how he was, and some days he would answer short answers and other days he would talk to me for a minute."
She described him as kind, gentle, and shy.
When Long was 11-years-old and living in California, he suffered brain damage due to complications after an accident.
His younger sister, Heidi, said he fell through a roof and broke his arm. He developed gangrene under his cast and later had an allergic reaction to anesthesia during surgery. He went into a coma and was left mentally disabled.
After spending time in Las Vegas, Long moved to Washington state and the Key Peninsula after his mother died. His family found him a home close to the Peninsula Market grocery store, which is also called Lake Kathryn Village, so he could have some independence.
"He walks there every day," said his sister, Heidi Michaelson, 35, of Gig Harbor. "People say, 'I've seen him walking, is that your brother?' I'm like, 'Yep, that's him.' Everyday he's either at the Chevron or the grocery store."
Last Saturday was no different. But on that day, as Long stood at the checkout counter, police say a mentally ill woman walked inside the store and opened fire.
Long was shot three times and remains in critical condition at Tacoma General Hospital.
Laura Sorenson, 20, has been charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and one count first-degree assault for allegedly shooting Long and two other men inside the store.
"Why that time? Why him?" said his sister. "I wouldn't want it to be anyone else either, but he's just so innocent."
Members of the community, who often saw Long walk to the grocery store, say his absence has been hard to deal with.
"He's just a very fine man. He's just a very gentle being and it was so catastrophic for our little community," Jones said. "I'm just glad he's alive. I'm so glad he's alive."
Although her brother is still unconscious, Michaelson said he will find it hard to believe that anyone missed him.
"He doesn't think that people remember him, but I think they do," she said. "I don't think he realizes what an impact he makes on people. He's just not going to believe it."
With help from the grocery store and the community, Long's family has set up a fund in his name. Those wishing to donate to help with medical expenses can do so at any Key Bank location under the "David E. Long Donation Account."
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