Family of slain Yountville veteran center psychologist urges compassion for those with PTSD

Despite the fact that she was gunned down after being taken hostage by an ex-patient and decorated Army veteran struggling with PTSD, her father and and husband urged compassion for the killer of Jennifer Gonzales and her two co-workers at the Yountville Veterans center last week.

"These people need our help, and we need to give it to them, in a way that's more than what we're doing right now," said her father, Mike Gonzales.

Her husband of nearly one year, TJ Shushereba added: "They are in critical need, and before it gets to the point where it's too late."

Husband and father sat down with KTVU at the Napa home where Gonzales had lived with Sushereba - the man she was about to have a baby with in June. They said they were taking a note about compassion from Gonzales in regards to the man who killed her: Army veteran Albert Wong, 36, of Sacramento. He had been a patient of the Pathway Home treatment center where Gonzales, executive director Christine Loeber and clinical director Jen Golick all worked. Golick had recently asked him to leave the program for his violent behavior, family reported. And he took the three women into custody on Friday for seven hours and ended up killing them and then himself.

"Jennifer was an ear, she was just open to listening, all the time," Shushereba said.

Added her father: "Jennifer would be the first person to say we need to be understanding and compassionate."

So, instead of being angry and wanting revenge, Gonzales' loved ones want to honor her memory with how they believe she would have responded.

"What we need right now is action, not reaction, and we want that story to be told," said Shushereba.

The mission so important to them: Her work healing and re-integrating military veterans. 

Gonzales was a teenager at the time of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, but the wars to follow shaped her life. 

"She actively pursued this career, this isn't something she stumbled into," Mike Gonzales said, "and she was a helper. She looked at veterans, as people who had given so much to us, protecting us." 

For the past two years, Gonzales worked with The Pathway Home program, where her family said she was dedicated to service members who were equipped for combat, but not for the traumatic effects they would carry home. 

"Jennifer would go out looking for vets, to tell them, 'You can come here, there are tools available to you,' " Mike Gonzales said.

Gonzales grew up in Mountain View, attending St. Francis High School and Loyola Marymount University, and earning her her doctorate in psychology from Stanford Consortium. 

She enjoyed family and friends and visited with her grandparents every week. She had traveled to all 50 U.S. states and was reading the biographies of every American president, in order. She liked cooking and hammocks, and was taking ukulele lessons from her paternal grandmother. She didn't wear much makeup, but red lipstick was "her trademark," loved-ones say. Among her favorite things: camping and travel and Italy.

Gonzales is survived by her husband and in-laws, her parents, and three brothers. Getting on without her - and the baby they would have raised together - is going to be excruciating.

"Jennifer had the most grace I've seen in anyone," Shushebera said. "Poise, understanding and compassion. She was an amazing amazing individual, and I will miss her dearly. The loss is very tough, it's going to be very tough. But at this point, we want to be her voice again. We want her to be heard." 

A GoFundMe account is established to help offset burial expenses for the family. A public memorial for the three women will be held March 19 at the Veterans Home in Yountville at 6 p.m.