DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — “She made a difference for every person and every heart that she touched,” Andrew Nyabwari said about his sister-in-law.
Nyabwari also said June Onkundi, died doing what she loved most. Nyabwari said family, friends and colleagues who knew her gathered for a prayer vigil outside of the Freedom House Recovery Center in Durham.
The outpatient clinic is where Nyabwari said Onkundi worked for three months as a nurse practitioner before she was killed.
Back in October, police reported Onkundi had been stabbed by a patient while on duty. Police arrested the suspect, James Gomes, who was at the scene.
“It’s actually starting to feel like it’s actually real because I’ve been in denial since I heard my sister had been killed at work,” said Eunice Abaga who traveled from Canada to remember her younger sister.
Abaga said her heart felt heavy when a young girl approached her at the vigil Sunday and asked who the woman in the photo was.
“The little girl asked me, ‘Who is that?’ And I said, ‘It’s my sister.’ And the next question she asked me was, ‘What happened to her?’”
Although the girl with the question was young, Abaga felt that it was important to share what had happened to her sister.
Abaga said her sister worked as a mental health nurse for years and hopes through this tragedy, Onkundi’s story can help ensure other health care workers are safe.
“We were there to acknowledge what happened as well as make a call for change.”
Several speakers at the vigil said there’s a growing concern about violence in the workplace for health care workers, especially when it comes to security for nurses who are working with mental health patients.
A member of the Nigerian Nurses Association of North Carolina, said, “What happened brought tears to all of our hearts,” and added, “Most of us have had some injury, but this is the ultimate sacrifice.”
Family members said Onkundi’s death has been heartbreaking, but coming together with others who loved her has also helped them heal. Abaga hopes her sister’s story will inspire others to improve safety measures and protocols to prevent another tragedy from happening.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Onkundi’s family and her four children.