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September 23, 1997 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-23

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SPECIAL EDITION

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 23, 1996 - 38

Students,

community

react

to

violent

death

By Katie Plona
and Heather Wiggin
Daily Staff Reporters
For those who called Tamara
Williams a friend, an employee or a stu-
dent - or for those who didn't know
her - her death early this morning can
only be described as shocking.
Dwight Fontenot, the assistant direc-
tor of advising for the Comprehensive
Studies Program, a program in which
Williams participated, said the death of
the 20-year-old LSA senior was not
only shocking, but a shame.
"To have overcome so much and
struggled so hard, it's a shame,"
Fontenot said, noting that Williams was
extremely resourceful because she was
able to balance her academic pursuits
with the raising her young daughter.
Fontenot said the CSP office plans to
hold a gathering for those who knew
Williams at 4 p.m. today.
Her co-workers at the LSA Media
Services Office said Williams death is
said because she was so excited to grad-
uate and pursue her career.
"She was very excited about graduat-
ing soon," said Nissa Landman, an LSA
Media Services receptionist. "She was
young. Nobody's ready for that kind of
loss,"
Many students said they were
shocked, but not necessarily surprised.
LSA senior Matt Heilman said that
although Williams' death is tragic, the
incident doesn't cause him to question
his personal well-being.
He said the Ann Arbor serial rapist,
who was found several years ago,
threatens all students.
"It's not some random thing. You
worry about your safety at night,"
Heilman said. "It's not going to change
anybody's daily plans."
Some students said they were in dis-
belief that an incident like that could
happen here.
"I just have never heard of anything
like that happening here while I'm
here," said Law second-year student
Carly Pummell. "It's just one of those
things you don't expect."
"This is the first time I feel like real-
ity has set in (at the University)," said
LSA sophomore Juhee Kim.
"It seems more common that some-

one would die of an overdose or rape or
something."
Most students said the death of Kevin
Nelson, Williams' assailant and
boyfriend, who died when a Department
of Public Safety officer fired at him, did
not concern them.
Nelson was not affiliated with the
University.
"Obviously, I'm shocked," said recent

LSA grad-
uate Brian
Ciune.
" ( T h e
offender)
deserved
to be shot.
That kind
of abuse
doesn't
deserve to
be tolerat-
ed." ^
L S A
sophomore
Ayes ha

"she was very excited
about graduating
soon. She was young,
Nobody's ready for
that kind of loss"
- Nissa Landman
LSA Media Services receptionist

Hardison said the tragedy has not made
her concerned for her own personal
safety. "If it was a random thing it might
increase fear," she said.
"That is so sad," Hardison said. "It
makes you think about domestic vio-
lence."
To many students the fact that
Williams died in an abusive relationship
is just as shocking.
"It doesn't seem like something that
would happen here - that someone
would be in that type of abusive rela-
tionship," Kim said.
Some students said they were uncom-
fortable about DPS officers carrying
firearms, while others said the idea
reassured them
"It actually made me feel a little bet-
ter ... to know that there's some type of
response, that they were able to get the
assailant," said Jennifer Block, a Law
second-year student.
Despite today's situation, Heilman
said he does not understand situations
where DPS officers are warranted to
carry firearms.
"I guess I just don't see the need;
maybe I'm naive," Heilman said. "I
don't see a need for University officers
to carry weapons."

WARREN ZINN/Daily
A neighbor of Tamara Williams, who was slain by her boyfuen early this moring lis family housing on North Campus,
reacts to the shock of the event. She would Identify herself only as Margaret.

Best friend reacts
with disbelief
Pennamon doesn't understand attack

By Stephanie Hepburn
Daily Staff Reporter
Sadness filled the eyes of Tamika
Pennamon as the knowledge that her
best friend had been slain slowly began
to sink in.
"I'm in denial, but I know that I have
to accept it and just think of all the good
times that we had," Pennamon said. "I'm
very disturbed, I just can't believe that I
saw her just yesterday."
Tamara Sonya Williams, a twenty year
old LSA senior and mother of an infant
child, was murdered early this morning
by former boyfriend and Ann Arbor
Resident Kevin Nelson, 26.
Pennamon said she did not under-
stand what sparked Nelson's attack.
"When it comes to the possibility of
domestic violence you don't know
what's clicking in someone else head,"
Pennamon said. "You can love someone
but you can never really know someone,
you just have to be really careful."
Pennamon said despite Williams's and
Nelson's sometimes rocky relationship,
he would have never foreseen this
tragedy.
"When Tamara and I first met I knew
that she had a restraining order against
Kevin in 1995, but that is the only time
I ever heard of any violence," Pennamon
said. "Tamara would call me and tell me
that they had an argument, but she only
spoke of verbal disagreement, nothing
physical."
Pennamon said Williams was confi-

dent she could control her often volatile
boyfriend's anger.
"Tamara said that there were certain
things that she wouldn't take from him,"
Pennamon said. "she felt confident that
she could deal with him."
Pennamon said that her boyfriend had
just talked to Nelson yesterday to make
arrangement for the four of them to cel-
ebrate Williams 21st birthday this com-
ing monday.
"I don't understand," Pennamon said.
"Kevin told my boyfriend that every-
thing was OK with Tamara, that their
relationship was back on track, they
were strait again."
But Williams and her family were no
strangers to tragedy. Last year the father
of Williams's 21/2-year old child, Kaira,
also fell victim to a fatal stabbing.
Pennamon spoke of the warmth and
intelligence of her friend.
"Tamara had such a loving and kind
heart," Pennamon said. "She never said
no to her friends."
"She was a really intelligent person,
she knew how to do everything,"
Pennamon said. Pennamon said
Williams's would have had a bright
future ahead of her.
"Tamara planned to go to law school
or apply to the school of social work
with me," she said.
"Its just amazing what a strong
woman Tamara was," Pennamon said.
"She stayed in school even though she
had a 2-year-old little girl."

JOHN KRAFT/Daily
Leo Heatley, director of DPS, speaks to a horde of reporters this morning at DPS headquarters. At 12:15 a.m., a DPS officer
fatally shot Kevin Nelson, the boyfriend of LSA senior Tamara Willams, outside a family housing unit on North Campus. When
he was shot Nelson was repeatedly stabbing Williams, who was later pronounced dead at University Hospitals.

DEATH
..r ia. m. nt I

"I'm very disturbed," Pennamon said. "I can't believe that
I saw her just yesterday." The two friends planned to work

to detect this type of incident.
"You can love someone, but you can't ever really know

just not needed."'
About 40 members of the local news media filed into a
i___ __ - - ~nc L,,,a,,.,....... aL: ........«,.

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