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

Her mom was killed at Chiefs rally. Teen picks up the DJ mic to ‘keep her legacy going.’

By Eric Adler Kansas City Star Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The beaded Chiefs bracelet that Lisa Lopez-Galvan wore on the afternoon she was killed dangled from her 19-year-old daughter’s right wrist.

In the family’s Shawnee garage, transformed long ago into a party room with a giant TV, fairy lights, neon signs and Chiefs and Royals decorations everywhere, Adriana Galvan stood behind a folding table set with her late mother’s DJ mixing board and laptop.

“Her spirit’s still here with me,” Adriana said as she rehearsed earlier this week.

She tucked her long black hair, like her mother’s, behind her ears and queued up the Grupo Frontera song “No Se Va” (“It Won’t Go Away.”) Tejano music filled the room where, propped against the front of her table, stood a conspicuous object:

A 4-foot sheet metal cross, gifted by a stranger in the days after Lopez-Galvan, at 43, was killed at Union Station in a spray of bullets at the Chiefs’ Super Bowl rally on Valentine’s Day. Lopez-Galvan’s son, Marc, 22, was among the 25 people who were struck, as were two nieces, ages 8 and 10.

Lopez-Galvan was the only one killed. Three adults and three juveniles have been charged thus far.

Painted in Mexico’s colors of green, white and red, the cross reads, “RIP LISA,” the date of her birth, 10-26-1980, and death, 02-14-2024.

“She’s on my mind every day,” Adriana said. “Every single day.”

Trying her best for her mom

It is precisely with her mother in mind, plus a desire to not let down the community that came to love and count on “DJ Lisa G,” that Adriana on Saturday will, for the first time, take up her mother’s passion and carry on where she left off.

For more than 15 years, Lopez-Galvan had all but provided the soundtrack for Kansas City’s Hispanic community. She was a coveted disc jockey at hundreds of weddings and anniversaries, quinceañeras and fundraisers. On Tuesday nights, she co-hosted a Tejano music program on KKFI, the community radio station.

Thousands of people knew her, drawn to her ebullient smile. At her Feb. 23 visitation the day before her funeral, the line of mourners spilled from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Church onto Broadway and wrapped around Linwood Boulevard.

“I kind of just wanted to honor her and keep her legacy going,” Adriana said in choosing to unpack her mother’s equipment and take a name: “DJ Nana G.”

After her mother died, previously booked gigs obviously had to be canceled. Mike Galvan, her dad, took on the hard duty in his grief to let event planners know. Then Adriana’s stepsister, Tiffany Bañuelos, had the idea that maybe Adriana could do them. Adriana had watched her mother at gigs, taking over the mixing board when her mom was on breaks.

“My mom kind of prepared me throughout the years,” Adriana said. “It just kind of felt a little heartbreaking for my dad to have to cancel. And so I kind of stepped up and said, ‘I could try and practice and take over if that’s OK with everybody.’ ”

So they kept Saturday’s gig: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Guadalupe Center, 1015 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez, a $10 taco fundraiser for the Kansas City Bravos, a Mexican American fastpitch softball team. Adriana goes on at 1 p.m. She has another event booked for Cinco de Mayo.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking. I know I won’t be as great as her, but I’ll definitely try my best.”

Trying, slowly and achingly moving forward, is what the Galvans are doing now. It has been little more than six weeks since as, Adriana put it, “it all happened.”

They were all there that day, 18 family members, when gunfire rattled the air.

In the garage this week, Galvan sat nearby, watching his daughter.

“She has all her music. She’ll do fine,” he said.

Even as Adriana merged one syncopated song into the next – Bad Bunny’s “Tití Me Preguntó,” Selena’s “Como La Flor,” Enrique Iglesias’ “Duele El Corazon” – he was open to talking about all that happened and is happening, fighting back tears.

Behind him, against a wall, stood a 3-foot-tall vase filled with flowers, long since dried, that had been sent by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Galvan told how he got a call from Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

“You know, he lost his son to an overdose,” Galvan, 66, said. “He said, ‘Man, I wish I could tell you that it is going to get easier. But it gets harder before it’s easier.’ He said, ‘If you want to talk, call me any time, day or night.’ After everything’s kind of settled down, he wants to meet the family.”

Galvan spoke of Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, known to be a deeply religious Roman Catholic, and one of his wife’s favorite players. It was well publicized that Butker gave the family a No. 7 jersey to bury her in, like the one she was wearing on the day she died. What’s little known, he said, is that Butker “and a few other organizations paid for the funeral arrangements.”

“He didn’t really want to put it out there,” Galvan said. “He’s a humble person.”

‘Honey, are you OK?’

He also talked about that afternoon when gunfire shattered the air and their family.

“We’re all going to therapy and stuff,” he said. He worries about Marc, who has begun to walk without a cane, and Adriana, in her second year studying criminal justice at Johnson County Community College.

“They’ve seen everything firsthand. They do as much as they can to cope with it. I’m sure that’s going to be lodged in their heads forever.”

And his.

“To tell the truth,” he said, “I think they’re doing better than I am.”

Together for 24 years, married for 22, Galvan was next to his wife at Union Station.

“It sounded like firecrackers,” he said. “I thought someone threw some Black Cats, you know? That’s how it sounded.”

They saw nothing. The Chiefs’ rally had ended.

“It was over. We were all walking together and shots rang out.”

He saw his wife and son hit the ground. He had no idea anyone was injured. He thought they went down because they had heard the shots. Lisa lay there.

“I immediately got on top of her, because I didn’t want her to get shot,” Galvan said.

“I said, ‘Honey are you OK?’ ” Galvan said, his voice cracked with emotion. “She shook her head, ‘No.’ ”

Galvan turned his wife to her back. He saw the wound in her stomach, maybe one in her chest. A woman ran to help. She began CPR. Lisa was carried to a nearby tent. “I went with her, but they ran me off,” Galvan said.

He and Adriana waited outside, still unsure of her condition.

“We stayed outside waiting for them to tell us something. Nobody seemed to know nothing,” he said, and he appealed to the medics. “ ‘I know where she’s at, which bed she’s in. Let me just peek in there.’ If she’s there, or if she’s in the hospital, I don’t know, because they were taking them from the back end of the tent.”

His sister-in-law soon called him to say that Marc had been taken to University Health, formerly Truman Medical Center, and perhaps Lisa was there, too.

He and Adriana began to leave. Police stopped them to say that they needed to give statements, which they had already given.

“I said, ‘You guys don’t tell me nothing. My son’s probably fighting for his life and my wife, if she’s at the hospital, I want to be with her.’ They were trying to stop me. I said, ‘Don’t even get in front of me. It’ll be a bad thing.’ ”

Lisa Lopez-Galvan and ‘a particular song’

Police backed off, he said. The crush of people and massive police presence would make driving too slow. They walked to the hospital and located Marc’s room. But before Galvan entered, he said he was told that a doctor wanted to speak to him.

The doctor started by saying that Marc had two bullet wounds in his left leg, but that he would be OK. One had passed through the flesh, the other was lodged in his left calf, where it would eventually work itself toward the surface and would be extracted. Weeks later it was.

The second piece of news was unexpected, and horrific.

“About your wife,” Galvan recalled the doctor saying. “She was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Adriana was in the waiting room. When he told his daughter – Mom didn’t make it – “she went crazy,” he said.

“I told her, ‘You’ve got to be strong, because Marc doesn’t know. We’ve got to go in there and tell him.’ Went in there and the first thing out of his mouth is, ‘How’s mom?’…

“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.”

In anguish, Marc began tearing the tubing from his arms. He was released from the hospital that night.

“I said, ‘It’s going to be us three now,’ ” Galvan said. “ ‘We’ve got to take care of each other.’ ” As they left the hospital, he said, scores of people were waiting for word on Lisa.

“They didn’t know.”

Nor did her parents, Galvan’s father-in-law and mother-in-law. He drove to their home.

“ ‘Where’s Lisa?’ ” he recalled his father-in-law saying. “I said, ‘That was her on TV. She didn’t make it.’ He said, ‘What?! That’s my baby.’ ”

During her gigs, Lisa Lopez-Galvan often sang along to the songs she played, including one in particular, “Ya Te Vi” (“I’ve Seen You”) by Elsa Garcia. It is a fun and smiling tune, the sort – with sharp drums, guitar and a buoyant accordion – that Adriana’s mother loved.

In her garage, Adriana put on the song. “I feel like every time I listen to it, she’s with me,” Adriana said.

“You know, I mean, we did everything together,” Galvan said. “It just seems like I’m lost. … All kinds of emotions, up and down. You’re good for one minute, and then a particular song comes on …”

Like her mother, Adriana began to sing.