A simple white floral arrangement and a second that spelled out the word “DAD” with red and white flowers stood at the front of the New Covenant Community Church sanctuary on Tuesday morning where family and friends celebrated the life of Mark Gassett.
Gassett, 37, was the second of three men killed in a shooting rampage a week ago just north of downtown Fresno. He was walking home with a bag of groceries from Catholic Charities when police say he was shot by Kori Ali Muhammad, 39.
Police said the shootings were random, although Muhammad told investigators he specifically targeted white men.
The hourlong service was filled with prayer, song, a poem recited by stepsister Stephanie Rodriguez and talk of Gassett’s caring nature – how generous he was and how he did not hold grudges.
You could have had an argument with him and two days later he would have acted pretty much like it never took place.
Rev. Jeff Harrington
“You could have had an argument with him and two days later he would have acted pretty much like it never took place,” the Rev. Jeff Harrington said in his closing prayer.
Gassett was a Central High School graduate and father of two boys, Layton, 9, and Troy, 14. Gassett’s mother, Rosie Wagner, said he was on disability and looking for work at the time of his death. He was previously employed as a woodworker and at a Fresno furniture store that is now closed.
Ask any friend or family member about Gassett, and their answers are the same: He was an amazing dad, friend and sibling.
Gassett “loved his boys, and he was a good father,” said Bill Ansiel of Fresno, who attended the funeral with his wife, Sue. The couple said they were there to support Gassett’s ex-wife, Lisa Gassett.
Following the service, the family held a reception at Holland Park West, a special event center west of Highway 99 where Mark and Lisa Gassett were married. Children ran on the grass and friends and family mingled.
Ross Dean, Lisa Gassett’s stepfather, said “this is hard on me, because I lost a son too.” Mark Gassett was “just a great guy,” Dean said. Gassett enjoyed woodworking and helped Dean’s wife refinish the cabinets in their home.
This is hard on me, because I lost a son too.
Gassett’s stepbrother, Jon Diddock, traveled from Arizona for the funeral. The two adventurous brothers grew up together rollerblading in the rain, staying up late and always eating “mom’s Pop-Tarts,” Diddock said with a smile. “I was younger, so I instantly looked up to him.”
What will Diddock miss the most about his stepbrother?
“His quirky laugh and smile,” Diddock said. “It was pretty funny.”