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Tarpon Springs Publix employees hold memorial service for slain co-worker

TARPON SPRINGS — Co-workers of a Publix employee police say was fatally shot by a woman who had just been fired held a predawn vigil Wednesday in the parking lot where the shooting occurred.

About 20 people holding candles gathered in a circle and recalled Gregory Janowski, 40, who was shot as he sat in his car outside the store at Tarpon Mall.

Janowski was recalled as a friendly guy who loved to fish and talked a lot about his family and his beloved pickup truck. He seemed to be loved by all. They said they will miss saying hi to him each day.

They gathered just before the store opened at 7 a.m. for an informal vigil that they organized. Some were dressed in Publix uniforms, others were in their street clothes.

Police say Arunya Rouch, who worked in the seafood department, shot Janowski with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun after she was fired Tuesday morning. She blamed Janowski, who worked in the meat department, for her firing, police said. She was wounded in the store during a shoot-out with police.

Co-worker Melina Zoanos, 24, said she was saddened by the loss of Janowski, whom she had known since going to work at the store five years ago. "He was an all-American country man,'' she said of Janowski, whom she jokingly nicknamed "Redneck."

She said she left the store about a half-hour before the shooting after feeling ill and got a call about 10 minutes after getting home. "I was here in a split second,'' she said.

The memorial service began with the Lord's prayer and continued with remembrances of Janowski.

"He will be loved, he will be missed,'' said Zoanos. "He will be remembered every day … Publix will not be the same without him. This world will not be the same without him.''

Autumn Tatum, 22 and a student at the University of South Florida, worked at the store for six years and said she was shocked that the store planned to re-open Wednesday. Tuesday night was rough, she said. "I could barely sleep," she said. "I was having nightmares."

Shannon Lundgren, 27, who works in the bakery department with Zoanos and was at the store when the shootings occurred, returned to work at 6 a.m. "It's very hard,'' she said. "I'm still scared.''

Zoanos and Tatum said they organized Wednesday's vigil as a way to show the family they are supporting them.

There was little mention of Rouch during the vigil, and she was never mentioned by name. "I don't doubt she's going to get hers,'' said Zoanos, who took Wednesday off in Janowski's memory.

After the vigil, some of the employees put up a hand-written sign in Janowski's memory and attached balloons in front of the store. They signed personal messages on the sign before it was moved into the break room for a more private memorial.

Tarpon Springs Publix employees hold memorial service for slain co-worker 03/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 6:19pm]
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