EDMONTON — David Luu sits in his new home, on a new couch, hoping for new memories.
One year ago, Luu was at his southwest Edmonton home with his family. He spent the morning at his daughter’s hockey game, and was watching the World Junior Hockey Championship; his team, Canada, was winning. His wife, Cyndi Duong, was helping their kids with their homework. Luu had just climbed the stairs when the doorbell rang.
“All three of my kids witnessed what happened,” Luu told Global News.
After the doorbell rang, Luu’s son jumped up to answer it, then there was a bang. He rushed down the stairs with his daughter. At first he thought his wife had fallen over.
Instead, he saw his wife on the ground with her eyes still open.
“Cyndi was lying there,” he remembered from that devastating day. “The blood was still coming out. That kills me.”
His wife had been shot dead in their home in front of their children. The killer pushed his two sons out of the way before turning the gun on their mother.
Luu called 911, crying and screaming, trying to tell the person on the other end of the phone what happened. He said he was frantic, trying to come to grips with what he and his family had just witnessed.
Duong was a victim in Edmonton’s largest mass murder in recent history.
On Dec. 28 and Dec. 29, 2014, 53-year-old Phu Lam went on a rampage, killing eight people, including Duong. Two children were among the victims. Most were members of his own family.
READ MORE: Edmonton mass murder: a timeline of events
The eight victims were identified as Cyndi Duong, 37, Thuy Tien Truong, 35, Thanh Ha Thi Truong, 33, Thi Dau Le, 55, Van Dang Truong, 55, Viet Nguyen, 41, Elvis Lam, 8, and Valentina Nguyen, 3.
Police don’t believe Duong was Lam’s target. Officers said Lam had gone to the home looking for someone else.
The killer later turned the weapon on himself.
“I don’t think about why he did it. I don’t hate the guy,” Luu said. Instead, he said he’s focused on moving forward, and helping the kids do the same. “It’s over. It’s done. Let God deal with him.”
But it hasn’t been easy.
“Everything reminds me of Cyndi,” Luu said, adding just surviving each minute of the day was difficult at the beginning. “It’s a year, but to me it just seems like yesterday.”
“Some days I don’t want to get out of bed. But I have to, I have kids.”
Watch below: Full interview with David Luu
Luu said being in their Haddow home was unbearable. After moving from family member’s home to family member’s home, he bought his wife’s dream house in a different part of the city.
The family moved in in September and is taking a break from “everyone and everything” right now. The father of three said moving to the new house brought up a lot of memories of his wife. Now pictures of her, her children and husband are neatly placed in every corner of the new home, something he said helps his kids cope.
“I thank God that not all of us are dead.”
His wife of more than 15 years always wanted their children to enjoy life, and that’s how he wants them to remember her.
“She put us first, always.”
At the insistence of Cyndi, the entire family has always been involved in the community through sports, church and other organizations. In the wake of the tragedy, that same community stepped up to help by providing places to stay, rides for the children and meals.
Luu said if there is something positive to come out of this, he hopes the story of Phu Lam brings awareness to domestic violence, and the importance of reaching out for help.
“Through this, I learned a lot. There’s a lot of help out there. A lot of great people.”
Luu took two weeks off of work this holiday season to help the kids through the anniversary of their mother’s death. They won’t be going anywhere, instead just spending time as a family, watching movies, playing Monopoly and doing puzzles. It’s about building new traditions, without a big piece of their own puzzle.
“What’s important is we’re all here.”
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