Sophomore discusses experience working at JCC after April 2014 shooting


Cotter-Brown sits by the Reat Underwood Memorial bench in front of the school. “Everything that has happened has created community — in this school and in this area,” Cotter-Brown said.

Courtney Carpenter, Co-Editor

A close friend to late Reat Underwood, sophomore Maili Cotter-Brown works at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) — the setting of the shooting which took place more than a year ago. Cotter-Brown is currently a lifeguard at the JCC and said she has had connections there since she was young.

“I went to preschool there,” Cotter-Brown said. “I went to after-school care there, and I took swim lessons and was on a swim team. Working there just kind of seemed to fit. It didn’t really originally connect with what had happened.”

Cotter-Brown said the JCC has changed since Underwood’s passing, and the overall security has been significantly increased.

“They never used to have policemen working around the campus,” she said. “Now they always walk around, and they’re at all of the entrances and exits. That’s a shocking experience for me.”

Also for security purposes,
Cotter-Brown said employees at the JCC have to partake in much more safety instruction than before.

“Every person that works at the Jewish Community Center has gone through training to know what to do if someone were to come in with a gun,” Cotter-Brown said. “That didn’t happen before Reat was there.”

Cotter-Brown said working where her friend was killed is a constant reminder of what took place.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time in that area of the building,” Cotter-Brown said. “When I do go through there, it’s a weird experience because I know that’s where it happened. It doesn’t seem real.”

Cotter-Brown said there has been support from all across the world for Underwood and the JCC, and that has only made the community stronger.

“The Jewish community was obviously affected, even though no one who was shot was actually Jewish,” Cotter-Brown said. “It was a direct attack on them, so the Jewish community itself has had to come together. People in Israel knew about what happened to Reat, and they support the JCC and Reat’s family.”

Cotter-Brown said the organization and phrase, “Faith Wins,” which was started by Underwood’s mother Mindy Corporon, has influenced how she faces tragedy every time she goes to work.

“When I think about ‘Faith Wins,’ I know they don’t want me to be sad about Reat,” she said. “I try not to do that. I try to let happiness and love pour out of me instead of hateful things like the hate that caused this to happen to Reat.”