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Sunday, December 28, 2008

[IL] After Officer Marchan killed little Alizay and Anthony

Chicago Police Officer Dannie Marchan fatally shot his children Alizay (7) and Anthony (9) on September 15, 2008 in his double murder suicide. Dannie died on scene, Alizay at the hospital, and Dannie lingered a few days before his little spirit lifted away.

Like I'm sure many other people who never knew the family personally, I think of these two children often. Today I went searching for anything that may have been printed since that time and found a few things.
The photo above is the profile picture that Officer Marchan left on his Myspace page before the killings. I enlarged the image, lightened it and brought it into focus.
I wonder if he left this picture on purpose. There are children at Alizay and Anthony's school - and almost surely people from within his own family - who pray forgiveness for him. There are probably more of us from around the country still praying healing for the children's mother who continues to live with this every day.

Previous entries:
The Dia de los Muertos altar
...The Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos is a festive Mexican celebration to remember loved ones who have died...
“In our culture, we believe the dead come back that day... So we imagine Anthony will come back and see his trophy, and Alizay will put on those little shoes and dance. That’s how we will always remember them”...
..."They were nice. My cousin, he was like my soldier," said Marissamver Roman, a sixth-grader at the school who was a first cousin to the deceased children. Alizay, she said, "was like a princess"...
...“It’s still difficult for me to understand why he did it. I think he lost control of reality. So I don’t feel anger now. I feel pity”...
...“I walk by the altar every day, very quickly. But I just don’t feel ready to look at those pictures,” kindergarten teacher Nohemi Ruiz said. “To look in their eyes, it still hurts”...
...Students immersed themselves in prayer, often several times a day, for Anthony and Alizay in heaven, for the father to be forgiven, for the mother to be healed. After the triple funeral on Sept. 29, 4th-grade English teacher Rebecca Loduca asked her students to write letters to Anthony and Alizay as a way of saying their last goodbye. Students put the notes inside balloons, brought them outside and released them...

Kids’ recovery a matter of faith
A month after slayings of 2 students, Catholic school still coping with tragedy

Chicago Tribune
By Margaret Ramirez maramirez@tribune.com
Thursday, October 30, 2008
[Excerpts] Inside St. Procopius Catholic School, the altar for the dead stands outside the kindergarten class, covered with fragrant marigolds and candy skulls, and topped with the smiling faces of Anthony and Alizay Marchan. Under the photos, Anthony’s baseball trophy rests beside Alizay’s silver Cinderella slippers. When parents and teachers saw the elaborate altar created for Thursday’s Day of the Dead celebration, they wept anew for the two children, who were fatally shot on Sept. 15 by their father, police Officer Dannie Marchan. He then killed himself. Eleven Chicago Public Schools students have been killed this school year by gunfire, most recently Julian King, nephew of Hollywood star Jennifer Hudson... Alizay and her father died that day. Anthony remained in the hospital for a week, dying on Sept. 23. After arriving at the school, the leaders divided the students into two groups, with Anthony and Alizay’s classmates from 2nd and 4th grade taken to Dufault’s office while the rest of the school reported to the gymnasium. With [Rev. Tim] Howe and [Sister Mary Paul] McCaughey behind him, [Principal Adam] Dufault recalled saying this: “Something sad happened. A very sad incident happened that resulted in Anthony being seriously injured. Alizay has passed away.” “He let the kids know what happened, that they had been hurt, without going into details,” Howe said. “He let them know it had been far away from school and they were safe... For two weeks, grief counselors were stationed at the school for teachers and students who needed them. Dufault said counselors used every available classroom and empty corner for talks and consoling. Students immersed themselves in prayer, often several times a day, for Anthony and Alizay in heaven, for the father to be forgiven, for the mother to be healed. After the triple funeral on Sept. 29, 4th-grade English teacher Rebecca Loduca asked her students to write letters to Anthony and Alizay as a way of saying their last goodbye. Students put the notes inside balloons, brought them outside and released them. “They seemed to take comfort in their faith and in knowing that Anthony is together with his sister and dad in heaven with God,” Loduca said. Kindergarten teacher Ruiz, who taught Alizay, said she initially was furious with Dannie Marchan. She recalled how he had come to the school for career day and spoke about being a police officer. Marchan told the students his gun was for protection and he tried not to use it. [Kindergarten teacher Nohemi] Ruiz kept replaying that memory in her head and wondered: How could he do that to his own children? How could God let that happen? Ruiz said she reached a turning point when she confronted a grief counselor in frustration, shouting those questions. “It’s still difficult for me to understand why he did it. I think he lost control of reality. So I don’t feel anger now. I feel pity,” she said. Eighth-grade teacher Brian O’Rourke said he is still sorting his emotions. “I know this whole thing has changed me. It’s too early to tell how,” he said. “I teach religion, and we talk about the mystery of faith. At the same time, I’m learning how I can feel so disappointed and confused.” ... With the Day of the Dead approaching, Dufault and teachers agreed the celebration planned for Thursday would allow students to honor the memory of Anthony and Alizay and reinforce the Catholic belief of resurrection and eternal life. The Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos is a festive Mexican celebration to remember loved ones who have died. “In our culture, we believe the dead come back that day,” Ruiz said. “So we imagine Anthony will come back and see his trophy, and Alizay will put on those little shoes and dance. That’s how we will always remember them.” [Full article here]

Remembering the Marchan children
Day of the Dead takes on special meaning for school

Chicago Journal
By Micah Maidenberg, Editor
11/5/2008 10:00:00 PM
The annual Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead celebration, had particular meaning this year for students at St. Procopius, an elementary school located at 16th and Allport in Pilsen. On Sept. 15, St. Procopius fourth-grader Anthony Marchan and his sister, second-grader Alizay Marchan, were murdered by their father, an off-duty Chicago police officer. Dannie Marchan, 29, later killed himself with a gunshot to the head. Dia de los Muertos, a traditional Mexican holiday, starts at the beginning of each November, when Catholics celebrate All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2. The holiday has a celebratory aspect, as people remember their ancestors and friends who have died. In Mexico, families visit gravesites with offerings and photographs. Last week, St. Procopius students observed the holiday with a procession down 18th Street, Pilsen's main commercial thoroughfare, to church plaza near 19th and Paulina. During the march, they carried paper mache skeletons bedecked in large hats and mustaches and small coffins for an ofrenda, or altar, they erected outside of the church. The altar was covered in dried marigolds, small candles with dancing skeletons inscribed on them, crosses and a small loaf traditional bread baked for the holiday. The deaths of the Marchan children weren't far from some students' thoughts. "They were nice. My cousin, he was like my soldier," said Marissamver Roman, a sixth-grader at the school who was a first cousin to the deceased children. Alizay, she said, "was like a princess. I lost my grandma but I didn't really know her. But with my cousins, I shared a lot of moments with them. It really hurts," Roman said. At the school, Roman explained that students had commemorated Anthony and Alizay with an altar that showcased photographs of them. "Almost everybody knew them," she said. Once they arrived outside of the church, troupes performed various dances, including a salsa-inflected number and one called el baile de los viejitos, or dance of the old folks, roughly translated. The students recited calaveras, or playful poems about the dead. St. Procopius principal Adam Dufault said the Marchan murders were hard for students and staff. "No worse thing has happened at this school," he said. [LINK]

Pilsen celebrates "Day of the Dead," honors young victims
Chi Town Daily News
By Kate Gardiner
October 31, 2008
[Excerpts] Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is traditionally celebrated tomorrow with public displays, prayer and remembrance for Mexicans worldwide. But at St. Procopius, a Catholic parish and school in Pilsen, Day of the Dead celebrations were held yesterday, to let students remember and honor those who they've recently lost. On Sept. 15, two students from St. Procopius were killed by their father, Chicago police officer Dannie Marchan, who then committed suicide. The siblings, Anthony, 9, and Alizay, 7, yesterday were memorialized by photographs on top of an altar just inside the entrance to the school. Angel Martinez, an eighth grader at St. Procopius, knew Anthony Marchan. He says he thinks the school came together in the weeks after the tragedy. "We've had more prayer, more church," Angel says. "It's been really emotional."... Ahmad Abuakar, the school's director of development and a newcomer, says the tragedy really helped him realize what the community, and the St. Procopius parish, is all about. "What stood out to me, as an outsider was to see how it affected everyone in the community," says Abukar. The school came together, and everyone sent in help"... [Full article here]

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