Friday, July 07, 2006

Happy Ending After a Vicious Murder

A Love Lost 'A Lifetime Ago'
Kristin Burt's husband was gunned down 10 years ago this month in Fullerton. Since his death, she's given birth to his son, raised him alone, and worked hard to find a new best friend.
By NANCY LUNA - The Orange County Register

>>A few years ago, an allergy attack left Kristin Burt gasping for breath, her face swollen.

She called for an ambulance. Then, during the ride to the hospital, it happened.

The paramedic stared at her. "Kristin Burt. Kristin Burt," he chanted, trying to make the connection.

Burt calls it the JFK syndrome - the moment when her name or face (even her face bloated by an allergy attack) becomes unmistakably familiar to strangers. The medic finally remembered she was married to Don Burt, a rookie CHP officer gunned down 10 years ago this month in Fullerton. Kristin Burt was seven months pregnant at the time of the killing, which made headlines for weeks.<<

I was living literally across the screet from the murder scene. I remember that evening... I was on the phone, talking to a friend, and I heard a series of pops. I joked about it being gunshots and the neighborhood going down the tubes, but I figured it was fireworks.

And then I heard sirens.

And more sirens.

And more sirens.

I finally went outside to see more black & whites in one place than I'd ever seen before, and I watched as an ambulance passed by, carrying Officer Burt.

>>He was shot in the head and neck by gang leader Hung Thanh Mai after a traffic stop. Mai was sentenced to death four years later.<<

Too bad he'll probably live a long life in prison and die of natural causes.

>>Then, when she wasn't looking, she met Aussie-born Russell Cooper. The two were attending a gathering of mutual friends at TAPS Fish House & Brewery in Brea in early 2001.
After hours of talking, the strangers didn't seem so strange. Both were adopted. Both were born in 1967. Both were single with one child. His daughter was Emma, the name she had wanted for Cameron if he had been a girl. And both were tired of "going nowhere" relationships.
Recently, Burt gave Cameron a quilt of his dad's clothes - square patches pieced together of Don Burt's favorite plaid shorts, shirts and wool CHP uniform. Burt also gave her son his father's old hairbrush and watch. He clings to each memento - treasures of a father he's now getting to know.

On Feb. 1, 2003, Kristin Burt and Russell Cooper married at TAPS in front of 40 friends.<<

It's a great story. Check it out. I'm so glad things are turning out well for her and her child. Officer Burt gave his life protecting a stretch of freeway I still use all of the time, and I'm glad his murder hasn't murdered the souls of the family he left behind. Russell Cooper sounds like a good guy.

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