May 11, 1994…a child is born.
The child is born into a large family…mom and dad, Maria and Edoardo, themselves being from large families. Eddie, born in Italy, emigrated to the United States when he was seven years old. Maria, the first born of her parents, was also her family’s first generation, United States born citizen. This large family, spread over the United States and Italy, rejoices the birth of Eddie and Maria’s first child. That child is Cristina Giovanna Lo Brutto.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Cristina was, from the start, a beautiful, sharp witted and extremely bright child. Her exuberance, thoughtful nature, silliness and love of life were contagious. In 1999, Eddie and Maria moved their growing family, which now included daughter Michelle, to Old Bridge, New Jersey. They wanted their children to benefit from the excellent school system, wealth of extra curricular activities and more rural environment that Old Bridge offered. Despite having to undergo four surgeries between ages 3 and 14 to correct strabismus - - an eye condition that caused Cristina to suffer from near constant double vision - - Cristina’s strong will prevailed and she excelled in Old Bridge.
Cristina participated in the Girl Scouts, soccer and softball. Her love of music led to her participation in her Middle School’s band, where she played trumpet. Always seeking a challenge, Cristina ultimately enrolled in Old Bridge High School’s traveling marching band program. Having accompanied their daughter on many trips to attend marching band competitions, Maria and Eddie burst with pride when they discuss Cristina’s achievements with the band. They are also proud of the type of person Cristina had become - - the kind of person who called the police to return a lost wallet, and called animal control to help a sick cat in front of her house. That was another of Cristina’s extraordinary passions - - animals. After many, many years of pleading with her mom and dad, Cristina was ecstatic the day they picked up their new dog Daisy. A morkie mix, Daisy and Cristina instantly became best friends. Cristina’s love for Daisy was undeniable.
By 17 years old, Cristina’s strong work ethic and sense of responsibility shone through. In July of 2011, she enthusiastically took a job with Pathmark. Thrilled that she had finally found a job, she immediately began to save money to purchase a car. Every penny she earned and every gift she received went not toward clothes and cosmetics like many teenage girls, but into savings for a car. In May of 2012, just after her 18th birthday, Cristina’s dream became a reality when she became the proud owner of her own car. Cristina was well on her way to adulthood.
Cristina graduated from Old Bridge High School in June of 2012. The family was thrilled to learn that Cristina would be attending Brookdale College in September of 2012. Maria and Eddie, having never attended college, were delighted by their daughter’s accomplishment. They were also excited to learn of Cristina’s interest in psychology and her wish to help others.
Cristina’s interests, future dreams, and potential career path start to emerge.
On August 31st, 2012, the hopes and dreams of an entire family and community came to a tragic end. The horrific events of that morning have devastated Cristina’s entire family and changed forever the lives of countless people.
That night, Cristina worked, for the very first time, the night shift at Pathmark, in an effort to earn extra money before starting school the following Wednesday. That same night, a deranged co-worker opened fire. He killed Bryan Breen . . . and he killed Cristina. In a single moment, the lives of many were forever changed. The lingering question is…could this have been prevented?
Within just hours of this most horrific and unthinkable act, the media had published the ramblings of the gunman. These entries were readily available to anyone who simply looked. According to multiple news sources, the gunman had posted on Twitter and Facebook:
"smh is it normal to want to kill ALL of ur coworkers? Maybe but I'm actually in a position where I can, smh," he wrote in June 2009, using the abbreviation "smh" for "shaking my head."
Months later, the individual tweeted again about killing:
"I'm starting to see why plp go on killin sprees," he wrote. “And these (obscenity) are reeeeeeally pushin my kill everyone I see button."
At the top of this individual’s Facebook page was the motto: "Be optimistic. All the people you hate are going to eventually die."
This lunatic’s intentions were clear and published in a very open and unambiguous way; on August 31st, 2012, he simply followed through.
* * *
On August 9, 2012, Eddie LoBrutto had proudly become a citizen of the United States. His hope and intention had been to vote in the upcoming presidential election alongside his daughter, Cristina, who had finally reached voting age and was thrilled to vote for the very first time. Eddie’s hopes and dreams were dashed because no one had taken the time to learn enough about the individual who was hired and placed inside a closed-to-the-public supermarket with his precious 18 year old daughter . . . the individual who broadcast on the worldwide web his intention to not just kill, but kill his co-workers. It was also learned later on by officials that this individual was also too mentally ill to finish out his contract with the Marine Corps., resulting in his premature discharge; he had lied on a gun application in California but was nonetheless sold three guns; he then drove those guns to New Jersey; and he then terrorized and killed two innocent people who were changing prices on groceries in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
Maria, Eddie and the entire LoBrutto family wish to prevent another family from suffering from such a senseless tragedy in the future. While freedom of speech is a basic tenet upon which this country operates, shouldn’t people be nonetheless held accountable for their rantings? And if a cry for help is made, wouldn’t it benefit society as a whole if that is discovered and, quite possibly, brought to the attention of the authorities and someone in a position to intervene or provide help?
Had this employer simply performed a background check that included a basic review of its prospective employee’s social networking sites, it would have easily learned that this individual made direct threats against those with whom he worked or would work. On August 31st, that person was Cristina Lo Brutto.
The family asks you - - friends, family, and fellow human beings who crave security and peace of mind for both themselves and their children - - to please sign this petition. Let’s show the legislature that we will not stand idly by and allow others with criminal intent to gain employment…and an opportunity to wreak havoc on the lives of others.
By signing this petition, you show your support for this family and for “Cristina’s Law”, which will require employers to consult social networking sites as part of the routine background checks they already perform during the process of hiring employees. If responsible employers decline employment to those who have express evil intent; and if responsible employers take the additional step of bringing such intent to the attention of authorities and those in a position to possibly intervene and offer assistance, lives will be saved.
The Lo Brutto family thanks you for your support.
Cristina Lo Brutto: Forever In Our Hearts started this petition with a single signature, and now has 2,724 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.