September 23, 2013

Old Town shooting victim’s father: It makes no sense

Thirty-six hours after someone fired into an Old Town crowd, killing their son, Eric Hopkins and Mary Rummans shared their heartbreak and some good memories.

Thirty-six hours after someone fired into an Old Town crowd, killing their son, Eric Hopkins and Mary Rummans shared their heartbreak and some good memories.

As they stood by the curb outside a family home Monday, bathed in the afternoon sun, Eric Hopkins said, “It’s going to take a long time for his mother and me to realize that our baby won’t be coming down the road.”

They were talking about their 25-year-old son, Kolby Hopkins, killed when police say an apparently unprovoked gunman opened fire shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, shooting their son in the head and wounding six others in an Old Town parking lot.

By his voice, you could tell tears were forming behind Eric Hopkins’ sunglasses.

You could see the grief on Rummans’ face.

As they were talking, a woman from next door walked up, put her hands over her heart and said she wanted to give her condolences.

The parents reminisced outside their son’s grandmother’s house in south Wichita, where on the next-to-last Sunday of his life, he feasted on neck bones and sweet potatoes and took watermelon to go. At another time, he might have had Grandma Donna Hopkins’ famous chocolate chip cookies.

Kolby Hopkins was a “mama’s boy,” his father said.

“And he knows Grandma can cook, so he always came over here,” his mother chimed in, smiling momentarily.

The family is having to face the worst kind of loss.

“I am 45 years old. I am too young to be burying my son,” his mother said.

“What I’m feeling right now is a pain I don’t want any parent to experience.”

The fact that his son died from gunfire made no sense, Eric Hopkins said, because his son wasn’t raised to be a part of violence. His son didn’t have weapons, not even a pocket knife, he said. He wasn’t a gang member.

He was a North High School graduate, class of 2006, a member of the basketball team. He was a Fort Scott Community College graduate and had recently been promoted at work. He had a job handling electronic equipment for a midsize business.

He was planning on going back to college. He wanted to keep improving, his father said.

“He was a responsible kid,” Eric Hopkins said.

“My son was humble, and he was a caring person. He never had a cross word about anybody.

“He loved his family. He was all about his family, all the time.”

He described his son as tall, about 6-feet-1, a “good-looking young man.”

His hobby was playing pick-up basketball. He had a good jump shot and could dunk the ball. The same Sunday that he shared a meal at Grandma’s, he played ball at Linwood Park.

He loved the Denver Broncos and KU.

Of the gunfire that took his son’s life, Eric Hopkins said, “This here is just way out of his realm.”

Whoever killed her son and wounded the others, Rummans said, “must just be heartless to shoot like that into a crowd of people.”

“Once it leaves the chamber,” Eric Hopkins added, “you can’t take it back.”

He said he has never taken his children for granted, telling them, “I love you,” on the phone and in person, as they come and go.

“And they say it back,” he said, his voice catching.

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