Parents of therapist killed in Western Psych mass shooting reflect on 11 year anniversary

PITTSBURGH — As our region grapples with a rise in daily violence, today, we mark 11 years since the Western Psych mass shooting in Oakland. Channel 11 Morning News anchor Katherine Amenta exclusively sat down with the parents of a therapist killed that day, and shares their message for the community.

“I probably forget everybody’s birthdays. But I’ll never forget two dates,” said Harry Schaab. “The day my daughter was killed. The day Michael was killed.”

For Harry and Mary Schaab, the calendar can be a cruel reminder of fate. Their children who were born just 18 months apart, were killed 18 months apart: Nancy in a domestic incident in 2010 and Michael in the Western Psych mass shooting on March 8th, 2012.

“It was just like any other day,” recalled Mary Schaab. “We were busy working. We have a small little restaurant....”

It was lunchtime at the Old Route 66 Grille in Greensburg and Mary had just gotten off the phone with Michael, who was therapist at the hospital. Mary ended with her usual motherly advice: “I always say you know, ‘be safe, and I love you’ and he says, ‘Oh don’t talk like that!!’”

Seconds later, Michael was shot and killed by a gunman in the lobby.

Michael was the only person killed that day. John Shick had walked in the front door and fired two semi-automatic weapons. Four others were injured before police were finally able to shoot and kill Shick.

“I was in complete denial, because we’d lost our daughter 18 months before that,” said Mary.

Years later, still heartbroken and lost, Mary’s friends took her on a trip to clear her head. They were in Las Vegas. This time the date, Oct. 1, 2017, the night a mass gunman opened fire near The Strip, killing 58 people.

“She calls me from under a table, ‘they’re shooting’ and I’m like what,” said Harry.

“People are flying through the door, they’re all muddy,” said Mary.

All of it, a recurring nightmare meant for a movie, not a family of four.

“It’s a club nobody wants membership to,” said Harry.

But they’ve turned their grief into action, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships through a memorial softball tournament.  And, they decided to talk with us to share one core message: you can help break the cycle of violence.

“I mean, if this interview can just start a conversation. Just everybody sit down and just say, ‘This is, this is insane. When is it going to end’,” lamented Harry.

They told me they still tune in and watch the news. They see the violence and the shootings involving stolen guns. And that’s something that hits close to home for them, because Michael’s killer used a stolen gun.

Mary says if people know how these guns are flooding into our communities, they have to speak up.

“Just tell one person that can tell somebody else,” said Mary.

These days, Harry says he finds comfort in the family restaurant, and still feels Michael’s presence.

Harry and Mary know they can’t solve the world’s problems, but the told me they’ll never stop trying, and they know their kids wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I always said if I could bottle this pain,” said Harry. “And just throw it out like a COVID virus, everybody can experience what we feel just one day, one day that that person holding the trigger might change his mind saying, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to. I don’t want to do this.’”

Harry and Mary will be married 40 years this summer.  They say they lean on each other and will keep fighting for change in their children’s memory.

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