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Las Vegas shooting victim mourned at cathedral funeral

02 10.19.17_StaceeEbetcher6 PAGEMourners mingle on the plaza at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Oct. 12 after funeral services for Stacee Rodrigues Etcheber, who was a victim of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas while attending the event with her husband, San Francisco police officer Vincent Etcheber. (Photo by Christina Gray/Catholic San Francisco)

October 19, 2017
Christina Gray

02 Stacee Ann Etcheber THUMBStacee Rodrigues Etcheber of Novato was remembered Oct. 12 at her funeral Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral as a woman who, like her police officer husband, “ran toward danger, not away from it,” and likely lost her life in the process.

Etcheber, 50, died Oct. 2 after a gunman opened fire at a Las Vegas country music concert she was attending with her husband, San Francisco police officer Vincent Etcheber. The massacre killed 57 others and injured more than 520 in the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s modern history.

“She left us with an undying message,” said Father Mike Quinn, pastor of Sausalito’s St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish and homilist to the hundreds who packed the church. “Don’t let the opportunity to help escape us.”

Etcheber was considered a member of the San Francisco Police Department family, police officials said, and her funeral was typical of those for fallen officers.

The department’s mounted unit stood at attention outside the cathedral as dozens of officers from police departments around the Bay Area filled the cathedral plaza. A bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” led the processional out of the church after the Mass and a long police motorcade escorted loved ones to the burial grounds in Novato.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone processed in with five priests including St. Bartholomew pastor and San Francisco police chaplain Father Michael Healy, principal celebrant. The archbishop was present in the sanctuary.

Moments after the shooting began, Etcheber’s husband of 13 years told her to run as he assisted the wounded. While no one knows exactly what happened after the couple became separated, her loved ones said that she wasn’t the type to leave while others needed help.

“They had an understanding between themselves – we help people. That’s what we do,” Father Quinn said of the couple.

The acrid smoke and ash from the devastating Wine Country wildfires still burning 45 miles north clouded the air but served to underscore Etcheber’s legacy of an irrepressible woman of action who would have been leading the charge in helping those affected by the fires.

Father Quinn said that friends of the can-do cowgirl who loved horses as much as she did people told him Stacee would have been the “incident commander” in getting both to safety. “She would be giving assurances to everybody,” Father Quinn said.

The Etcheber family – Stacee, Vincent and their two children, Alivia and Vincent Jr. – are parishioners of Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Novato.

Many at the funeral wore orange ribbons or some orange article of clothing – Stacee Etcheber’s favorite color. But it was the sea of blue police uniforms that stood out in the church.

Several members of the department had rushed to Las Vegas in the hours after the shooting, searching hospitals with the family in hopes that she was among the missing, not the dead. Within 24 hours, they confirmed the worst.

Father Quinn said few words of the shooter other than calling him someone “personifying evil who did a terrible thing to many people.” He instead shone a light on his local victims.

“The kind of people that you would want in times of tragedy are the Etchebers,” he said. Helping others is “automatic” for them, no questions asked. “Because of that sense of selflessness, we are here today.”

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