A former Barron area resident was among those shot at a restaurant in Bellevue, Nebraska, on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Kenneth Gerner, 25, was one of three survivors. But two others were killed.
Gerner was hit by six to ten bullets, all in the arms and legs, according to a friend of the family. Surgeries will be needed as part of a long recovery.
The shooting occurred just before 9:30 p.m. at a Sonic Drive-in at 1307 Cornhusker Road in Bellevue.
Nathan Pastrana, 22, and Ryan Helbert, 28, were killed and Zoey Lujan, 18, also suffered critical injuries.
Police arrested Roberto Carlos Silva Jr., 23, of Omaha, in the parking lot of the Sonic. He was taken to the Sarpy County Jail. He has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of use of a firearm to commit a felony and first-degree arson.
According to his Facebook profile, Gerner attended Advanced Learning Academy Of Wisconsin, a Barron-based virtual school, from 2010 to 2013. Gerner lived in the area as recently as 2018, according to articles in the News-Shield archives.
“Friends said Kenneth Gerner, whom restaurant workers greeted like Norm from the TV show “Cheers” by yelling “Kenny,” was shot multiple times. They said he was hit mainly in his arms and legs.
Gerner has undergone surgery, but his friend LeAnn Jensen said she hasn’t been able to see him yet because of coronavirus-related concerns and the severity of his condition.
Jensen and Noelle Kochera, 19, had worked with Gerner at the Bellevue Pizza Hut on Nebraska Highway 370. They describe him as the first person to comfort an employee or manager after a customer was mean to them.
The two said Gerner is kind and caring, quick with hugs and an easy shoulder to cry on, which helps him make friends easily. He’s the guy, they said, who perks up people when they’re having a bad day.
Jensen said Gerner had been getting into hiking and jogging with her in the hills north of Omaha. They also enjoyed watching movies and playing video games, especially Call of Duty’s zombie maps.
Kochera started a GoFundMe page for Gerner because she wasn’t sure what his health insurance would cover and wanted to help.
“I know Bellevue is a great community that comes together in times of need, which Kenny greatly needs during this time,” she wrote on the donations page.
Friends said Gerner, whose family lives in western Iowa, was on a path toward management at a local Pizza Hut but took the job at Sonic earlier this year because it worked out better for him.
“He makes everybody happy,” Jensen said of Gerner. “That explains why everyone is here for him now.”