'Gem of a girl': Young Napa woman who's niece of actress Tamera Mowry identified as Thousand Oaks mass shooting victim

Friday, November 9, 2018
'Gem of a girl': Napa woman victim in Thousand Oaks mass shooting
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A young woman from Napa, who's the niece of "Sister Sister" actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and her husband, is being mourned as one of the 12 killed in a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- In a county all-too-familiar and weary from mass murders, the news from Southern California reopened wounds and cut deep as residents learned an 18-year-old from Napa was a victim of the mass shooting that broke out at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Ventura County's Thousand Oaks late Wednesday night.

Alaina Housley graduated from Vintage High School earlier this year. Her family says she was a promising student at Pepperdine University with plans to study law.

The 18-year-old was bright, popular and well-loved, a student who had a 4.5 grade-point average since junior high school and earned college scholarships, said her grandfather, Art Housley. He added that she played soccer and tennis all through high school, studied piano and violin, and sang.

RELATED: Thousand Oaks shooting: Sheriff Sergeant Ron Helus was 'hard working, dedicated' and 'died a hero'

"She's a really good kid," he said, fighting tears, before her relatives learned their fears of her death were true. "Everybody loves her."

Her parents, Arik and wife Hannah, put out a statement on Thursday night. It reads:

"Words can't describe our grief over losing our daughter, Alaina. She was everything we could hope for in a child: kind, smart, beautiful and respectful.

She continued the family's tradition of attending Pepperdine University. She was so happy to be a Wave. We are grateful to the Pepperdine community for their support during this difficult time.

We want to honor Alaina by focusing on how she lived her life. She would have enjoyed the public debate that is certain to happen after this tragedy. But she would have insisted that it be respectful with an eye toward solving these senseless shootings.

We send our condolences to the family and friends of the other victims. We especially thank Sgt. Ron Helus' family for their sacrifice."

Sarah O'Connor, her former principal at Vintage High School, tells ABC7 News that Housely's mom was a teacher at the school and that her father owner a local market.

"Alaina Housley is an incredible person," she said.

When rumors became fact that Housley died in Wednesday night's shooting, grief descended, especially on that campus. The 18-year-old graduated in June as a model honor student, athlete and member of student council.

"I don't think people can make sense of this," said O'Connor. "That makes it so much harder."

Out of respect, we stayed away from friends and fellow students, who wore emotions on their faces.

Across town, piano teacher Marcia Battat could not believe the bad news.

RELATED: Thousand Oaks shooting survivor also survived Las Vegas shooting

"I am shaking like a leaf," she said.

Battat began teaching Housley when she was just 5 years old. She loved her so much that she still has the keepsakes.

"She was gem of a girl, a beautiful girl," Battat said. "Loved everyone and everything."

Now, Housley represents yet another loss in this community still smarting from March 9, when a gunman stormed the Pathway Home in Yountville and killed three clinicians.

They included Dr. Jennifer Gonzales, who was three months pregnant.

She, too, had been one of Battat's piano students.

"Music brings people together in many, many ways," she said. "But you don't want this to be one of those ways."

In a tragedy as broad and far-reaching as this, there is no making sense of the senseless.

Adam Housley, a former Fox News correspondent, and Tamera Mowry-Housley, an actress known for the 1990s TV series "Sister Sister," said their niece was killed at the bar where she had gone line dancing with friends.

The couple had been frantically searching for Alaina since the early morning hours in the wake of the deadly shooting. In a statement they said: "Our hearts are broken. We just learned that our niece Alaina was one of the victims of last night's shooting at Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks. Alaina was an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her and we are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner. We thank everyone for your prayers and ask for privacy at this time."

Authorities say a gunman killed 12 people, including a sheriff's sergeant, Wednesday night at the bar, which is popular among college students in the area.

See more stories, photos, and videos on Thousand Oaks mass shooting.

KABC and the Associated Press contributed to this report