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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane mourns dead

Four strangers forever linked by random act of violence

Diana Dawson The Spokesman-Review
Capt. Alan London’s life came full circle on Monday when the psychologist died in a burst of gunfire at Fairchild Air Force Base, where he was born 40 years ago. His colleague, Maj. Thomas Brigham, died with only three years remaining as an Air Force psychiatrist before he could move his family to the Wisconsin farm he’d bought. Shooting victim Christin McCarron was a giggling 8-year-old, good in math and grammar and already the author of a play for her Montessori class, “The Adventure of Four Little Girls.” The five bullets felling Anita Lindner took a mother of three, Camp Fire leader and a woman who started a camp for children in Cheney. “She was a wonderful, intelligent and caring woman,” said her husband, Rande Lindner. “I think people need to know what we lose when people do stupid things.” Spokane mourned on Tuesday the four people murdered at the Fairchild hospital by a former airman wielding an assault rifle. Throughout the area, friends and relatives prayed and pulled for the 23 others the gunman wounded. By chance they’d come together on Monday, keeping doctors’ appointments, filling prescriptions, getting allergy shots and counseling patients. A rampage of less than 10 minutes linked the strangers forever as victims of Spokane’s bloodiest shooting spree. Staff Sgt. Joe Noone dropped by the hospital Monday to get his leave pass signed so he could accompany his wife to Seattle for a four-day midwifery course. At 3 o’clock he stood in the hallway, visiting with another medical technician as an elderly woman walked down the hallway. Dr. Thomas Brigham was counseling a patient then in his office in the hospital annex. The entire Moe family sat in the cafeteria, drinking juice and pop after 13-year-old Kelly’s physical. The two children for whom she was baby-sitting were there, too. Anita Lindner had left her 4-year-old playing at a neighbor’s house in Cheney while she ran to the base to refill a prescription. Orson Lee walked toward the hospital for treatment following cataract surgery. He had seen 11 months and 23 days of combat in Korea, but he retired from the U.S. Army in 1973 without a scratch. Gunfire crackled throughout the hospital. Within minutes, Noone was wounded while diving to knock the elderly woman from the gunman’s path. Brigham lay dead in his office and Lindner in the parking lot. Lee had bullet fragments in his chest and the entire Moe family was wounded. “I don’t think I was over 15 feet away when he shot,” said Lee. “He was shooting randomly. The gunman first shot Brigham. The 31-year-old psychiatrist had come to Fairchild in 1992 to replace the retiring Dr. George Wang. He was intrigued by the challenge of working with service people who had endured the stress of the Cold War. A native of Alabama, Brigham helped his father on the pecan farm in Mobile and wanted such a place of his own in the Midwest. Strong and athletic, he swam during his lunch break and often rode his bicycle to work from Cheney. “The guy had a great deal of integrity,” said Thomas Harrold, his father-in-law. “He was a strong family man, quite compassionate.” The next to die was psychologist Alan London. He’d been working at Fairchild since 1991, after receiving his doctorate in clinical psychology at Washington State University. As a graduate student, he taught “Psychology of Stress” and practiced what he preached. He gave great neck rubs to tense department staff members. “He was great at telling us how not to get stressed out,” said Ruth Day, psychology department secretary. “He was a really sweet guy.” As Mellberg tore through the medical facility, he fired his assault weapon indiscriminately. Delwyn Baker, a 42-year-old internist at the hospital, was with a patient in the family practice office when the gunfire started. Running through the hospital doors, he came face to face with Mellberg. The father of two was shot in the chest. Master Sgt. Dennis and Marlene Moe sat in the cafeteria with their two daughters and the two children whom they were baby-sitting, Ryan and Christin McCarron. The Moes met in high school in Eugene, Ore., and had been married about 20 years. An avid camper and skier, Moe planned to retire in Bend, Ore., with his wife to be near good downhill slopes. For a while, both parents worked two jobs to make ends meet for their kids. “He smiles all the time,” said Master Sgt. James Braun. “Nothing ever bothers him. He can get his butt chewed out one moment and walk out smiling.” When the gunman left the cafeteria, the entire Moe family was wounded, Dennis critically. Christin McCarron was dead. The little girl had been growing her blond hair long since last Halloween, planning to be an Indian princess when she went trick-or-treating this year. She started her summer vacation riding her bike, playing with her brother in the back yard and keeping track of her favorite doll named Molly. “She was a very, very sweet person,” said her mother, Echo McCarron. “She always thought of others’ feelings.” Anita Lindner was the last to die when she crossed paths with Mellberg in the parking lot. For six hours, her husband searched frantically for her. Then the knock on the door came from the sheriff’s deputy. She and her husband, Rande, met in college while both were in the Civil Air Patrol and quickly made children the focus of their lives. Over the years, they had three of their own, took in a nephew, worked in Camp Fire and Cub Scouts and started their own Camp Comia. “She was a wonderful, wonderful woman and never got the recognition she deserved,” he said. “Now, we can’t tell her all those things we meant to say.”
Staff writers Kristina Johnson and Dan Hansen contributed to this report.