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Navy Yard victim's family: She 'would have listened' to shooter

Sep. 18, 2013 at 9:12 AM ET

Video: Families of the Washington Navy Yard shooting victims spoke to TODAY’s Natalie Morales about their lost loved ones and the struggle to come to grips with their new reality.

One of 12 fatalities in Monday's shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, Sylvia Frasier is being remembered by her family for her selfless nature and dedication to her church.

A network security administrator from Waldorf, Md., Frasier, 53, is survived by six siblings after being one of a dozen who were shot and killed by a gunman who authorities have identified as Aaron Alexis. They say the 34-year-old civilian contractor opened fire at the Naval Sea Systems Command before being shot dead by police.

“She denied herself everything,’’ Frasier's sister, Wendy Edmonds, told Natalie Morales on TODAY Wednesday. “No matter what she did, it was always about the next person.”

“But I think that’s, in a way, a gift,’’ her brother, Bobbie Frasier, told Morales. “She saw herself as giving herself away.”

Bobbie Frasier
TODAY
Bobbie Frasier, brother of Navy Yard shooting victim Sylvia Frasier, said his sister would have been the shooter's "greatest ally" had he spoken to her that morning.

The siblings are trying to come to grips with the senseless loss of their sister.

“We felt like she died alone,’’ her brother said. “That she didn't have her family around. That as her big brother, I wasn't there to protect her."

“It's such a tragedy because (Alexis) didn’t know Sylvie,’’ Edmonds said. “If he had talked to Sylvie that morning, Sylvie would have been his greatest ally. She would have listened. He never gave her that opportunity.”

Frasier had been working for the government since she was 16 years old, and never married. She dedicated much of her time to her church.

“She always had a nice word to say,’’ her sister, Marvena Simmonds, told Morales. “No matter what anyone else had to say, she was nice.”

Video: Don Borelli, former FBI counterterrorism chief, says that suspected Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was the kind of officer who was “always on the verge” of losing security clearances but wasn’t “sick enough” for officials to take action.

Frasier’s family is one of 12 trying to hold up as best as they can, like the family of John Johnson, 73, a logistics engineer who left behind four daughters.

“Dad was just a larger-than-life person,’’ daughter Megan Johnson told TODAY. “He loved everybody and embraced life.”

Kathy Gaarde, 62, was a financial analyst at the shipyards who was just months from retirement.

“She was my partner,” Douglas Gaarde, her husband of 38 years, told TODAY. “That’s a hole that just will never be filled.”

Michael Arnold, 59, had retired from the Navy last October after 29 years and was working at the Navy Yard with a team that designed amphibious assault vehicles for the Marine Corps. He also was an avid pilot who was building his own airplane.

Video: Authorities in Newport, Rhode Island were so concerned about an encounter with Aaron Alexis that they contacted a nearby naval station, describing in a report his belief he was being followed and being kept awake by a “microwave machine.” NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

“He was just a good man,’’ his mother, Pat Arnold, told TODAY. “I think that’s one of the best things you can say about anyone.”

Martin Bodrog, 54, was a Naval Academy graduate who was the father of three girls and active in his church. Arthur Daniels, 51, was a grandfather of nine. Mary Knight, 51; Frank Kohler, 50; Vishnu Pandit, 61; and Kenneth Proctor, 46, were all parents of two children. Gerald Read, 58, was a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army with three grandchildren, and Richard Ridgell, 52, had three daughters.

“We continue to pray for everybody,’’ Edmonds said. “It wasn’t about our sister. When we prayed, we prayed for everybody.”

Among the victims of the shooting spree are three people who were shot and survived. One woman who was shot in the head and the hand was discharged from the hospital late Tuesday. 

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