CNN.com  

Forgive Mumbai attackers, victims' relative says

    * Story Highlights
    * "We must show that love is possible," says mother, wife of Mumbai attack 
victims
    * "We must send them our love [and] forgiveness," Kia Scherr says
    * Attack survivors describe final moments of Alan, Naomi Scherr in 
restaurant
    * Founder of group that led trip: I identified bodies after attacks were 
over

(CNN) -- A Virginia woman whose husband and daughter were gunned down in last 
week's terror attacks in India says the attackers should be forgiven.

"We must send them our love, forgiveness and compassion," Kia Scherr told 
reporters Tuesday of the Mumbai attackers, nine of whom were killed by Indian 
forces. "As Jesus Christ said long ago, they know not what they do.

"They are in ignorance, and they are completely shrouded and clouded by fear, 
and we must show that love is possible and love overpowers fear. So that's my 
choice."

Alan Scherr, 58, and Naomi Scherr, 13, were among 25 people who had traveled to 
India for a meditation retreat with Virginia-based spiritual group 
Synchronicity Foundation, to which the Scherrs belonged.

Authorities said the father and daughter were found fatally shot in a 
restaurant in Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel, where the group was staying.

Kia Scherr, who didn't go on the trip, said at a news conference in Faber, 
Virginia, she is experiencing the "deepest grief and pain I have ever known." 
VideoWatch Kia Scherr talk about the command to forgive »

Synchronicity's founder, Charles Cannon, told reporters Alan Scherr was in 
Cannon's room at the Oberoi shortly before the attacks began on the night of 
November 26. They were discussing the next day's activities for the group.

"He said that he was hungry and he was going down to the restaurant to eat," 
Cannon said.

Scherr and his daughter were in the restaurant with other Synchronicity 
travelers when gunmen burst into the hotel and started shooting, Cannon said.

One of the travelers, Andi Veragona, told CNN affiliate WTVF that she was 
trying to play dead during the attack, and that she was trying to calm Scherr, 
who was next to her.

"[He] was panicking, and I put my hand on the back of his neck, and just 
saying, 'Shhh,' " she told the Nashville, Tennessee, station. "And then I felt 
a bullet penetrate his head, and he just went limp, and he was bleeding all 
over me."

Linda Ragsdale, Veragona's friend and fellow Tennessee resident, told The 
Washington Post that she pulled Naomi Scherr under a table but couldn't save 
her.

"I was taking in the enormity of the moment, thinking that this energetic child 
who I had been playing with in the pool the night before -- and had made a pact 
to do somersaults with -- was dead, shot," Ragsdale told the Post.

Ragsdale's husband, Ben, said his wife and others played dead, but a gunman 
"decided to shoot into the file of them."

Three of the Synchronicity survivors in the restaurant -- including Ragsdale 
and Veragona -- were shot, and a bullet grazed a fourth. Ben Ragsdale said 
hotel staff eventually led the four outside, where they caught the taxis that 
drove them to a hospital.

Cannon told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Tuesday that he and two others were in 
his hotel room when the attacks began. They barricaded the door and remained 
there for nearly 48 hours, getting information about the whereabouts of other 
Synchronicity members by cell phone and their room phone, he said.

"Slowly, we were able to account for everyone but [Alan and Naomi Scherr]," 
Cannon said. "And we knew they had been in the restaurant at a table where four 
of the others who were shot and injured had gotten out."

About two days after the attacks began, Indian commandos escorted Cannon and 
the two others out of Cannon's room, he told reporters at Tuesday's news 
conference. He said the hotel looked like "a bombed-out war zone."

"Bodies [were] everywhere, glass, everything broken and smoky," he said of the 
hotel, where grenades had exploded and fires had burned.

On his way out, police asked him if he could identify any remains, he said.

Cannon said he stepped over bodies and walked through pools of blood in the 
restaurant to get to the table where Alan and Naomi had been sitting.

"I found and identified Alan and Naomi, who were laying under the table, heads 
facing each other and their arms outstretched to each other and overlapping," 
he said. "It [was] one of the most challenging things I have ever had to do in 
my life, to identify the remains of two people who I loved like family."

Three of the wounded Synchronicity travelers still were in an Indian hospital 
this week, Cannon said on "Larry King Live."

Ragsdale's son told CNN she had been shot in the back, but that the bullet hit 
nothing vital. Veragona suffered leg and arm wounds.

Kia Scherr told reporters she had spoken to her husband and daughter by phone 
in the days before the attacks, and that they were "having the times of their 
lives."

The trip was the first time Naomi had traveled by plane, and it was Alan's 
third visit to India this year, she said.

"He told me by phone one day: 'I love these people. I could live here,' " she 
told "Larry King Live."

CNN's Brian Todd contributed to this report.

All AboutMumbai • India • Terrorism • Oberoi Hotel
 
 
Links referenced within this article

Mumbai
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Mumbai
Watch Kia Scherr talk about the command to forgive »
#cnnSTCVideo
Oberoi
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Oberoi_Hotel
India
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/India
Mumbai
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Mumbai
India
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/India
Terrorism
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Terrorism
Oberoi Hotel
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Oberoi_Hotel

 
Find this article at:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/12/04/mumbai.synchronicity/index.html
 
 
� 2008 Cable News Network.


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