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Thursday, February 16, 2012

True Love, True Story ~ A Tragic Love Story

This boy loved his girlfriend so much... on Valentine's Day 2008... and greater love hath no man than this.

Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
~ John 15:13, King James Version (KJV)

Slain NIU student who saved girlfriend wasn't enrolled in Cole Hall class
March 28, 2008, by Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune

Love, not an academic requirement, put Daniel Parmenter in Cole Hall that fateful day.

Parmenter's family recently learned from Northern Illinois University that he was not enrolled in the ocean science class where five students were shot and killed, his stepfather Bob Greer said. Parmenter, a 20-year-old finance major, attended the lecture so he could spend Valentine's Day afternoon with his girlfriend, Lauren Debrauwere, who was a student in the course.

When Steven Kazmierczak began shooting, Parmenter dropped to the ground with his girlfriend and covered her with his 6-foot-5 frame. She survived the attack. He did not.

"We assumed he was enrolled in the class," Greer said. "But he went for Lauren and he saved her life."

Student, slain by gunman, tried to protect girlfriend
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:00 am, by Russell Working, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO (MCT) - Daniel Parmenter and Lauren Debrauwere had been dating for only two months when they sat side-by-side in the front row of an ocean science class at Northern Illinois University on Valentine's Day.

On their first date, he had brought her a rose, and Thursday he was planning to give her a silver necklace. But he never got the chance. 

When Steven Kazmierczak entered the hall and began emptying a shotgun and three pistols into the crowd, the couple dropped to the floor, and Dan began praying aloud. Parmenter tried to protect Debrauwere, both families said.

"He covered her up," said Mark Debrauwere, Lauren's father.

"This kid was enormous, he's like 6-foot-5. He was like a refrigerator."

Debrauwere suffered serious injuries but survived the brutal attack. Parmenter did not: He was shot twice in the head, twice in the back and once in the side and was pronounced dead at Kishwaukee Community Hospital later that day, said his stepfather, Bob Greer.

Debrauwere, a 19-year-old sophomore from Hoffman Estates, Ill., suffered gunshot wounds to the hip and abdomen, but she was out of intensive care Tuesday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, her father said. One bullet lodged in her upper chest, and it will stay there.

As his daughter struggled with her injuries those first hours after the shooting, her first concern was for her boyfriend. She was unable to talk at first because of a tube in her throat, her family said, but she would write, "Dan?"

The family didn't know how to answer. Mark Debrauwere and his ex-wife, Mary, didn't want to upset their daughter and set back her recovery.

"For a day or so, we told her, 'He's all right,"' her father said.

Finally, after consulting with a hospital social worker, the parents decided it was better to hear it from them than on TV. They broke the terrible news Saturday.

It didn't come as a surprise. "She said she knew he was dead," her father said.

On Monday, Brittany Debrauwere told her sister she was going to a visitation for Parmenter.

"She got very emotional," Brittany said. "She said he was trying to protect her."

Though they lived only about 15 miles apart as high school students - he at York Community High in Elmhurst; she at Barrington High - the two met at the DeKalb school about 60 miles from Chicago. They had known each other for about a year before dating.

Parmenter, 20, was raised in Elmhurst, the son of Gary Parmenter and Linda Greer. He was born with a heart defect and underwent surgery when he was a toddler. The family considered him their miracle baby, friends said.

As a youth, he helped rescue a smaller child from a tree and later stuck up for the boy when he was being bullied, said Diana Smith, his former principal at York, where he was an honors student.

On the football team, Parmenter started at defensive end his junior year, said head coach Bill Lech. He was injured the summer before his senior year, and his doctor didn't clear him to play until the Monday after the first game. By then, someone else had won Parmenter's position, but a spot opened up on offense.

Parmenter offered to switch, telling his coach, "If it's what's best for the team, that's what I'll do," Lech said.

His football career came to an end in his senior year of high school.

"He acquired a fracture somewhere in the back, and the doctor said 'you can no longer play football, otherwise you risk damaging your back permanently,"' said his stepfather.

So Parmenter picked up rugby, a sport he played at NIU. At first, his mother admitted, she didn't know what rugby was.

Greer cleared it up: "'Linda, rugby is football without the padding,"' he told her.

Parmenter was a finance major and a member of the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha; Lauren Debrauwere, a communications major, was a member of the next-door sorority Sigma Kappa.

But when they met, she was involved with someone else. Then he was.

Only in December did they begin dating each other.

"He was feeling special, excited about the relationship," Mark Debrauwere said. "Lauren was excited, too. She'd liked him for some time."

Parmenter had a way of making the women in his life feel cherished. He called both his mother and his sister on Valentine's Day to tell them he loved him.

Parmenter's funeral Tuesday at Christ Church of Oak Brook was the third of five for students who died from the shooting.

On Wednesday, a memorial service will be held for Gayle Dubowski, a 20-year-old from Carol Stream. Funeral services will be private.

Also Wednesday, services will be held for Julianna Gehant, a 32-year-old from Mendota. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery in Mendota, with full military honors.

Of the 16 people injured in the shooting, at least four remain hospitalized Tuesday, including Debrauwere. At Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Maria Ruiz Santana, 20, remained in serious condition and Sherman Yau, 20, remained in fair condition. The condition of an unidentified victim at Rockford Memorial Hospital could not be updated. The victim was listed in fair condition on Monday.

Teaching assistant Brian Karpes was discharged from St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford on Tuesday.

At Parmenter's funeral, a cross was draped in Lenten purple and photos of his life showed on a screen. His sister Kristen Parmenter recalled that she and her brother talked for about 10 minutes on Valentine's Day, and he asked about her plans. He told her he had bought a special necklace for his girlfriend.

"I told him I loved him," Kristen Parmenter said Tuesday, choking back tears. "And I said goodbye. I never thought it would be the last time I got to hear his voice. It'll be a long time before I get to see Dan again."

The story of Daniel Parmenter's last minutes inspired those who knew him, Josh Boldt, a fraternity brother, told a congregation of several hundred.

"In his final act, Dan completed what he was ultimately meant to do: save the life of another," Boldt said.

The couple's parents didn't meet until after the tragedy. But when Parmenter's family visited Lauren Debrauwere, "they gave her the Valentine's Day present he had planned to give to her but never got around to wrapping," Mark Debrauwere said. Dan's sister had picked it up at his fraternity house. It was the silver necklace.


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