Candlelight Vigil in Memoriam of Toriano Cooper

By KBJR News 1

January 22, 2012 Updated Jan 22, 2012 at 10:39 PM CST

Superior, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - Sunday, January 15th, 10 AM—on the corner of North 12th Street and Banks Ave—shots ring out.

Soon after, 35 year old Toriano "Snapper" Cooper lies dead inside his home, bullet wound to the chest—a specifically targeted victim of gun violence.

"He was a father, he was a son, he was a dad, he was a nephew, he was an uncle, and it's just not fair," said Cooper's fiance Kristina Lampi.

Lampi—who has had an on–and–off relationship with Cooper for 7 years—admitted their relationship wasn't without its problems.
Cooper had a lengthy criminal record in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Lampi, however, chooses to remember Cooper's good side—a skilled auto mechanic, and a caring individual.

"We've had our ups and downs, just like anybody, but he just is an amazing man taken way too early...funny, he was helpful; he would give the shirt off his back to anybody on the street," said Lampi.

Cooper was a father—with 3 children of his own—and considered a father figure to Lampi's two children from a previous marriage.

"...amazing with my children, just always there. He's been there since they've been 2 and 1. That was Dad," said Lampi, smiling.

Reverend Joel Certa–Werner, of the Superior Area Ministerium—who helped coordinate the vigil—said the mission on Sunday was to take a stand against violence in the community, along with show support for Cooper's family and friends.

"...just let the family know that someone cares, and to let them know that they have a big group of people who are there to support them as well," said Certa-Werner.

Pastor Patrick Ziems, of the Zion Lutheran Church, said the vigil also served as a reminder of Wisconsin's recently passed conceal–and–carry laws—and the potential dangers that could come with easy access to handguns.

"Now, you get angry, and you reach for your gun, and lives—whole families' lives—are shattered," said Ziems.

But Lampi remains hopeful, comforted by the community's response, and wishing for somebody to come forward with any information on the—as of now—unsolved case.

"...the littlest piece of information that you could have, so his family can have a little sense of closure," said Lampi, holding back tears.

A fund in Cooper's name has been set up at Wells Fargo Banks across the nation, the proceeds from which will go toward transportation costs of Cooper's body to his birth town of Gary, Indiana.

They plan to bury him next to his mother.