Naoko Takemaru, a “triple-threat” artist who was a Japanese language teacher and colleague, inspired both her students with her spirit. Patricia Navarro Velez was a charismatic accounting expert who had a bigger-than-life personality. Jerry Chan was so passionate about research that he decided to donate his own body to science.
This is how friends and co-workers at the University of Nevada Las Vegas remembered the 3 faculty members who were fatally shot Wednesday by a gunman in an attack on campus.
Takemaru was the third person killed and a fourth, a visiting university professor, wounded in the 11:45 am shooting.
University police shot and killed the gunman at Beam Hall.
“Naoko was the kindest, gentlest soul I have ever met.” Each interaction I had was unique. It’s a tragic loss for her, her family, students and department,” Deborah Arteaga told NBC News. She is a professor at UNLV of Spanish and linguistics.
Arteaga who was with the students for several hours during the shooting added that “our department can’t begin to process a senseless and violent end for Naoko.”
Margaret Harp, an associate professor in French at the University, told a Friday news conference that Takemaru, an associate professor in Japanese studies, was hired by them to develop their Japanese language program.
Harp stated that “Naoko had a triple threat artist.” She was a concert pianist but left her career because of physical disabilities. She created her own designs and embroidered with great skill. “Every holiday season she would bring us her home-made chocolates.”
Mario Reyes (58) and April Reyes (56), Takemaru’s neighbours, met her when they moved to the neighborhood in 2020.
“Quickly, we became more than neighbors… She had a wonderful sense of humor.” April Reyes said that Takemaru “was very intelligent and soft-spoken.” She added that they last saw Takemaru last week, when they fixed her garage door.
Reyes stated that “she gave my husband the biggest, tightest hug she could because she was grateful” for her assistance. “She called my husband Super Mario because he was very handy.”
Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang
Keah Choon Tan, a friend and colleague, said that Professor Cha Jan “Jerry Chang” (64), who taught Management Information Systems at the Lee Business School left behind his wife and two kids, whom he loved.
Chang and Tan took their children to fish together when they both came to the University in 2001. He remembered that on one of the trips, each man drove a different car.
Tan laughed as he said: “We each got a speeding ticket — at the exact same location, from the same trooper.” “We learned our lessons.”
Tan stated that Chan, a dedicated teacher and researcher, had decided to donate his body for research purposes at the university when he passed away. Tan said that UNLV’s Medical School does not accept such donations. However, his body would be donated to a different institution for medical research.
Tan said, “It’s a testament to how much he enjoyed teaching, researching, UNLV, and higher education.”
Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, a Puerto Rican assistant professor of Accounting, was “a pioneer” who worked through three universities to land a challenging position at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms, said Jason Smith.
Navarro-Velez has joined the Department at UNLV since 2019. The school stated that her research focused on data analytics and internal control weaknesses disclosure as well as cybersecurity disclosures.
Smith stated on Friday that “Pat made an immediate positive impact on the lives of her students and colleagues.” “She was a person with a large-than-life smile and an infectious personality. She made everyone feel like family.
Adam Garcia, Director of Police Services at UNLV, said that all three victims were in Beam hall when they died. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigates the shooting.
Keith Whitfield, the University president, said that Wednesday’s shooting was the darkest day in the history of the university and a life-changing event for all those involved.
It’s going be a long time before we reach what we can call normal. Whitfield replied, “But you know what? That’s okay.”
“It’s okay in part because we are community.” He said, “We’re all part of a family at this university. We’re also a family in this amazing city and state.” “I think we are here to help each other and to look after each other. With that, we will be able move forward.”