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Park's widow speaks out in official statement

The widow of David W. Park said she is sure her husband meant no harm when he entered an Amherst home where he was shot and killed as an intruder last March.

Deanna Ripstein, who has said little about her husband's death, released a statement to The Buffalo News:

Her statement:

"I have spoken to the press very little since the violent and tragic death of my deeply beloved husband. Mr. [David] D'Amico's attorney (the Defense) has spoken openly and uncontested, and at this time I strongly feel compelled to speak.

"People have speculated why David walked into Mr. D'Amico's home. My husband and I had never previously been to Millbrook Court and the home of the gathering where the spouses convened, while the wives attended a baby shower across town. Following the baby shower, I joined my husband to spend some time together with old friends. I was in the basement with friends when my husband stepped out of the house, likely for some fresh air or a brief walk. Upon return, he mistakenly walked into the neighbor's house and entered the home through an unlocked door. He by no means 'broke in' to the home.

"Countless people have come forward in my life to tell me their first hand stories of similar situations -- all of whom were escorted safely out by the homeowners or the authorities. One police officer told me about the number of calls they get on the weekends from homeowners who wake to find a person sleeping on a [couch] or wandering around.

"I filed a lawsuit against the man that shot my husband to attain all records and information that are not disclosed in the absence of a lawsuit. I wanted access to accurate information to understand and piece together the final minutes of my husband's life. I will not simply 'assume' that the accounts and statements made by Mr. D'Amico, who was facing the potential for criminal charges, are the truth. Despite requests for them, I have yet to hear the 911 tapes.

"Anyone who knew my husband knows that he would have never threatened the homeowner and would have been incredibly confused, terrified and apologetic.

"Mr. D'Amico owns several guns, most of which were locked away. However, Mr. D'Amico stored one shotgun and ammunition in his bedroom; a calculated decision to prepare himself for this situation. I am confident that David would still be by my side if he walked into any other home on Millbrook Court that night.

"So what have I lost? The most beautiful, merciful and loving person I have ever met. But I recognize that David's loss is so much greater than that of my own -- our family has lost a son, brother, nephew and uncle to nine, and our community has lost an exceptional urban educator, a dedicated and enthusiastic coach, a mentor to so many children, and a compassionate, endearing and selfless friend."

The Buffalo News has repeatedly reached out to Ripstein and other family members in attempts to obtain their comments since his death last year.

-- Dan Herbeck