Tributes pour in for mall victims

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 14 2007 12:00 a.m. MST

Valentine's Day and birthdays. Dinner and a quiet evening with friends and loved ones. These were the simple pleasures so violently interrupted by 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic as he strolled, shotgun in hand, into Trolley Square on Monday evening.

His victims — those he killed and those he injured — are loved and admired, and are missed. Their heartbroken families, friends, co-workers and neighbors paid tribute to them Tuesday.

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Jeffery and AJ Walker

Jeffery Walker and his son, Alan "AJ" Walker, stopped by Trolley Square on Monday night to buy Valentine's Day presents for the girls in their family. Within moments, however, Jeffery Walker was dead and his son was grievously wounded after being shot in the head and ankle.

Talovic opened fire with a shotgun, killing five people, including the senior Walker, 52, before being killed by police.

AJ Walker was in serious condition at University Hospital on Tuesday evening, following surgery early in the day to relieve swelling in his brain. Family friend and neighbor Mark McDougal said the youth is sedated but has been talking some to his mother, Vickie. He knows his dad was shot but does not yet know that he died. And doctors treating him hope to keep it that way for a while.

AJ told his mom he saw a "man in a costume" who "immediately started shooting."

McDougal will remember Jeffery Walker as "a man with a great heart" and "great passion for his dear wife, Vickie" and their four children, of whom AJ is second youngest. "He will be remembered as a true hero."

Jeffery Walker, he said, was the life of the party, a fellow who loved to orchestrate group vacations with family and friends. Just recently, McDougal said, Walker had spearheaded a multifamily cruise. "If you vacationed with Jeff, you'd think you went with a master planner." Walker also taught Sunday School in his ward.

The Walker family, he said, is finding "great comfort in their belief that families can be forever."

Vickie Walker, while struggling with her husband's death and her son's injuries, told their three other children that "we can feel no evil, no ill, no harm against this man (Talovic)," McDougal said.

In the aftermath of the shooting spree, family members did not know for many hours what had become of either father or son, McDougal said. They were notified by University Hospital on Monday night that AJ had been brought in. But it was after midnight before they were informed that Jeffery Walker, a regional marketing director for ING Variable Annuities, was among those killed.

AJ is a junior at Bingham High School and a "pretty popular kid," evidenced by the outpouring of love and concern the teen and his family have received at the hospital, McDougal said. He is clearly a "really well-liked young man."

"Surreal" was the word McDougal used to describe the reaction of Vickie Walker and her children to the tragedy. "They can't imagine it happening here. Or to Jeff Walker."

McDougal said AJ Walker will need more surgery and his prognosis is not yet clear. "Right now, it's watch and see."

Meanwhile, neighbors and classmates in the family's South Jordan neighborhood were also trying Tuesday to make sense of the violence that killed the senior Walker and critically injured his son.

"You can't believe it," said Ethan Aylett, who lives across the street from the Walkers. "You think you're going to wake up and think things will be the way they were. You keep thinking you're going to look across the street and see (Jeffery Walker) pull in."

Several neighbors gathered outside the Walker home to talk and help the family take care of the house.

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