Austin's new year started with the terribly sad news that Esme Barrera had been killed in her home in the north campus neighborhood of Austin.

Every murder is a tragedy, and senseless. While recognizing that, we can say that because of the richness of Esme's life this case has had an unusually deep impact in Austin. The outpouring of grief over the past week has made it clear that she was an extraordinary person. Esme was just 29. She was a teacher's assistant at Casis Elementary, and a counselor at the Girls Rock Camp, an awesome outfit that brings young girls together to rock out each summer. She was a huge music lover; here's a tribute from Waterloo, and a lot of people are remembering her through the music she loved. I never got to know Esme--I only met her once that I recall--but she was friends with a lot of my friends. That seems to be true for everyone in Austin, and suggests how much she was loved. A few of the many remembrances are here and here

There's nothing to say in such cases other than the commonplace that this is a reminder to live our lives with joy and purpose, and to look out for each other. Part of the upheaval people are feeling right now is tied to the apparent brutality and illogic of the attack. We all know the usual tips about personal safety, and the grim fact of the matter is that it doesn't seem that Esme had been cavalier about any of them. I've lived in Austin for years and always felt safe walking around by myself at night, and certainly being in my own home at night, even in neighborhoods worse than that one. As of yesterday, the police still do not have a suspect in custody. They have released a sketch of a suspect who attacked a different woman in front of Esme's house about half an hour before Esme was found--a person of interest to the current inquiries, for obvious reasons.

Some more resources:

A blog has been set up to accept donations for Esme's funeral expenses.

The visitation is on Monday and funeral is on Tuesday, both in Esme's hometown of El Paso.

There will be benefit concerts in Brooklyn and in Austin on January 12th.

Austinist is aggregating tributes and event information as they come in.
 



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