BOULDER, Colo. — With tragedy still fresh on the heart and minds of Coloradans, people are seeking ways to help each other grieve and heal. For one woman, that means bridging a cultural divide.
On Monday in Boulder, a gunman senselessly killed ten people in the parking lot of King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive. One of the victims, Neven Stanisic, was only 23 years old.
Edite Maloku, a Colorado resident, said when she saw Stanisic's name as one of the victims, she immediately knew he was Serbian.
"I can’t imagine if that was my son," she said.
Stanisic's parents are Serbian refugees from Bosnia. The family reverend told Denver7 Stanisic was killed in the parking lot of King Soopers after repairing a coffee machine inside the grocery store.
"They cannot comprehend that they actually fled this country to save their lives and start new, and now they're having to deal with this terrible tragic loss of their son," Rev. Radovan Petrovic of Saint John the Baptist told Denver7 on Tuesday. "That is something that is striking them the most right now."
The circumstances are striking to Maloku as well. The only difference is that she is Albanian from Kosovo.
"I came to America in 1999 with my family. I have two brothers and two sisters and my parents, we all came here during the war as refugees,"
Maloku decided to start to GoFundMe for the family. Her gesture may seem simple, but it comes on complex history. Political conflicts in Southeast Europe have estranged the Albanian and Serbian communities.
"It's really sad, and it’s something for generations that I’ve seen. I experienced it, obviously, myself and that was a very negative experience, and I’ll be honest, I had those feelings for a very long time as well," she said.
Maloku said years of emotional work have brought her healing. In her adult years, she has found more similarities than differences with the Serbian community.
"I just think that if everybody just gave a little bit of love on both sides and just left the politics more towards the side, you would see how much more in common you have with each other," Maloku said. "Our backgrounds are so similar with our parents, how we came, why we came here, what we were searching for here in America — a peaceful better life. The only difference was the timing. I’ve been to that store. I’ve been to that area many times. The only reason was just timing, and that is very, just heartbreaking, because it definitely could’ve been me."
Through tears Maloku added, "I just have the deepest sympathy for them. I’m hopeful that I will get to meet them and be able to give them a hug and give to them my condolences in person."
Saint John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church in Lakewood says they've spoken with Maloku, and its been arranged for the GoFundMe donations to go directly to the Stanisic family.