“Lydia and Louis,” Zaharatos said Friday, addressing the children, “your mom loves it when you score enough points for parents pie-in-the-face day. Lydia, she loves how you read. She loves how you think. She loves how you leave post it notes around the house.”
St. Pierre shared her love of motherhood in her professional life, serving as a public health analyst focusing on maternal mortality issues for the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health. She started her career at the agency in 2014, working in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In her studies and career she traveled the world so much, to Europe, South America, Africa and China, she caught malaria twice.
More than 700 people attended her celebration of life at Emory University, a reservation-only event that was closed to the media. The family, however, invited a reporter from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to attend.
St. Pierre’s family and friends remembered her as a child eating chicken fingers and French fries, as a teenager going to concerts with her best friend, and as the Emory University student who danced ballet on the same stage where her funeral was held, in the Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
As an adult she commuted to work by bicycle, collected hard copies of People magazine, took in foster dogs and took her children on camping trips. Brainy and passionate, she would speak out in social gatherings about topics such as politics, racism, white privilege, mental health, women’s health and gun control, one of her neighbors, Jamie Butler, said during the service.
“But she did all of this without dividing the room. She never stepped on anybody’s toes,” Butler said. “Amy embodied the value of celebrating people’s differences, and allowing that to be the very thing that pulled them together.”
Credit: Steve Schaefer
Credit: Steve Schaefer
But hanging over the memorial was the “senseless crime” referred to in St. Pierre’s obituary.
Investigators believe another patient, 24-year-old Deion Patterson, shot five women inside the waiting room of the 11th-floor Laureate Medical Group office. According to workers in the building who spoke to the AJC, Patterson became enraged after he arrived half an hour late for an appointment and was turned away, allegedly drawing a handgun from a satchel he carried into the building.
Patterson’s mother, who has declined to speak with the AJC, has said Patterson was having a “mental break” and wanted to be prescribed the anxiety medication Ativan. But his Veterans Affairs medical team declined to give it to him, fearing he could become addicted, she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Patterson was arrested in Cobb County on charges of murder and aggravated assault. He remains in the Fulton County jail, where he is being held without bond.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, both of whom have called for national gun law reforms since St. Pierre’s killing, sent messages for the funeral by letter, promising to continue the fight against violence.
“Atlanta still reels from the horrific incident that took Amy from us. As a fellow Atlantan, please know that I’m praying for you,” Dickens said in a letter read by the city’s executive director for constituent services. “As mayor, I want you to know that the Atlanta Police Department and our partners in law enforcement will continue to work to pursue continued justice.”
The presiding minister read the letter from Warnock, who had been pushing for gun control legislation the morning of the shootings and gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor that day calling for new gun control measures.
“As a pastor, I’m praying for all of you with my words and thoughts, but also by taking action, just as Amy took action in her professional and personal life for the many causes she championed,” Warnock’s message said. “Amy believed, just as I do, that our responsibility is to continue bending the moral arc of the universe toward justice.”