By Angie Bado, TSB Staff
Those of us who lived in McKinney on March 12, 2004 will never forget the feelings of enormous grief, helplessness and the sense of anger that our safe community had suddenly been turned upside down by the senseless and tragic murders of four people, including two McKinney North High School football players.
In what is considered the worst mass murder in McKinney’s history, Rosa Barbosa, 46; her nephew Mark Barbosa, 25; and his friends Austin York, 18, and Matthew Self, 17 were all killed at the Truett St. home of Rose Barbosa.
I will never forget exactly what I was doing when I heard the news, however, I also remember thinking this can’t possibly be – it’s all a mistake – analogous to the old game of gossip, but with a final message that had gone horribly wrong along the way.
But it was not a mistake. As 20 or so football players and family friends sat in the hospital hallway that night, the words “if only” went through my mind a million times. The thought that it could have been my son also crossed my mind. By early morning, Matt Self, the only one of the four who had survived long enough to be hospitalized, had passed away. Coaches, players, parents shed tears together. We were bonded in a way that we would never have asked for – in a way that we never could have even imagined.
I’d coached Austin York in soccer in his younger years. I had watched him serve communion at our church in McKinney. I had helped Matt Self smear sunscreen on his back during track meets and had listened to tales of his dating woes. I decorated their lockers before football games and assisted with mundane issues that came up in the athletic office at McKinney North.
But I am not their mother and I can’t even begin to understand how it must feel to lose a child, especially under circumstances that are so difficult to grasp. The feeling of an emptiness that can never be filled no matter how hard one tries – the longing to hear the voice of my child, or hug my child, one more time.
What I do know is that since that night, when the phone rings and my kids aren’t with me, I am gripped by a sense of fear that beings to strangle my heart, making it difficult to do anything but will myself to b-r-e-a-t-h-e – just breathe.
What I also know is that I am a mother and in just that small way, I can relate, to some extent. We can hug each other, support each other and just listen. So, Nancy, Laurie, Basilia – I know I can speak for all of us mothers from those years at North – we still remember. We are still here for you. We will always be here for you. We will always be a family tied together by unforeseen and unforgettable circumstances. I salute you for carrying on; for putting one foot in front of the other each day. Your children will not be forgotten in our hearts and minds.
I pray, mother to mother, that you have found peace my friends.
Photo: Austin York (# 38 back row L) and Matt Self, # 34 with their Bulldog team members and with Mrs. Barbosa.
Eddie Ray Williams pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three concurrent 20-year sentences in February 2010.
According to police, Williams’ voluntary cooperation with them helped solve the quadruple murder and led to the 2009 conviction and death sentence of Raul Cortez.