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Darien shooting survivor: 'I thank God every day'
Friends gather online to remember Darien victims
By Christy Gutowski and Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/5/2010 6:14 PM | Updated: 3/6/2010 12:07 AM

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After a gunman opened fire, 17-year-old Tina Palumbo had the wherewithal to flee the Darien house and pound on neighbors' doors for help.

In her only public statement since surviving the tragedy in which her boyfriend Michael Kramer was killed, the Oak Brook girl shared her feelings of love and loss with a growing online community of family, friends and even strangers.

More than 3,000 people have joined various Facebook public groups set up to memorialize Jeff and Lori Kramer, who along with their 20-year-old son, Michael, were killed early Tuesday after being ambushed in their home.

The slain couple's two other children, Anthony and Angela Kramer, 29 and 25, and Palumbo survived.

"I thank God every day for the survival of his sister, his older brother, and myself," the teen wrote in a stirring memorial about the family she so loved. "This is just such a great devastation. The purpose of this group is to remember and be thankful.

"For those of you who knew Michael personally, you can all vouch for me when I say that he radiated. When he walked into a room, you couldn't help but be drawn to him. His smile was so huge and he had the most stunning dimples. Michael made everybody laugh. His personality was just one of a kind. He will never, ever, ever be forgotten."

She praised his parents, whom she called a "second family," for their constant support and inspiration.

The teen's grandmother praised the young girl.

"She has been so brave throughout this and has been such a trouper and, yet, she is so young," JoAnne Palumbo said. "Their love for each other and unity was so strong."

A joint visitation for the Kramers will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Hallowell & James Funeral Home in Downers Grove, followed by an 11 a.m. Monday Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Darien. Burial follows at Mt. Auburn Memorial Park in Stickney. Instead of flowers, mourners are urged to make a donation to an animal shelter of their choice.

Ryan Cichowicz was Michael Kramer's childhood friend. He created one of the public Facebook memorial pages to give other friends an outlet to share their grief.

"What surprised me was that all these people that didn't know Mike also showed up to say something," he said. "I just knew that a lot of my friends were on Facebook and just thought it would be a good place where we could put up pictures and write about the good times we had together and kind of celebrate his life like that."

Another friend, Ariane Selmon, who now lives in Tennessee, said she first heard about the tragedy from her mother.

"I figured Facebook was the best place to go because so many of my friends are on it," she said. "I just wanted people to know that Mike was a great kid who everyone got along with because he always made you laugh."