Christopher Wright, 43, was beaten outside his Brooklyn Park home when he tried to protect his son from three students and two adults who showed up after a school fight.
Tracy Karopchinsky, Wright’s fiancée and the boy’s mother, recounted the May 19 confrontation to Baltimore Banner columnist Rick Hutzell in an opinion piece about recent school violence.
“Their father was outside already. He was trimming his rose bush. He yelled up, ‘Hey your friends are here.’ My oldest boy came and said they’re not friends anymore,” she said. “Chris went out and said he’s not coming out, and they said, ‘Well, then you’re going to have to fight.’”
Police arrived at the townhouse around 5 p.m., and paramedics were already on the scene treating Wright. He was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with a blunt-force-trauma injury to the head, and later died.
At the time of publication, no arrests had been made. Despite much outcry on social media, Karopchinsky assured commenters that police are working with the family and have video footage of the incident, and to “not mistake their silence or lack of arrests for lack of action.”
It’s been a week since the fatal encounter, and Wright’s family and friends held a vigil Friday night on a baseball field to honor and remember their father, partner and friend. More than 100 people attended, holding candles and making a circle around the pitcher’s mound, where there was a collage of photos of Wright.
Wright was a diehard Ravens fan, family members and friends said. He loved being a stay-at-home dad — cutting the kids’ hair, cooking meals and everything in between — while his fiancée worked. He would often say to his friends, “I have the perfect life. I can spend every day with my kids.”
Kristin Karopchinsky, Wright’s sister-in-law, began the vigil by saying, “Tonight you walked into our nightmare to hold our hands.”
She described the last moments at the hospital.
“Tracy just laid in bed and held him because she would not let him die alone. Then we had to go home and tell [the kids] that their dad was gone, and those cries will haunt me for the rest of my life,” she said. “I want a time back when we didn’t have to worry about kids fighting, and if they did it wouldn’t result in someone’s death.”
Tracy Karopchinsky said Wright was her “one and only.”
“I loved him more than anything in the world. He was the father to our kids,” she said. “There’s no question in my mind that he loved us, loved me. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for his children. What I want my kids to know first and foremost about Daddy is that he loved them more than anything in this world.”
Wright’s friends gathered before the vigil began. Many of them hadn’t seen each other in a while. Their smiles were tainted by grief, and they hugged each other a little tighter than normal.
“I knew him for 35 years, and we were best friends for about 25 years. We grew up together,“ Sean Reuling said. “He was a family guy. That’s what he did. Unfortunately, standing up for his family got him killed over a middle school fight. He tried to talk about it as a parent and tried to turn everything back around and, the people that did that, they weren’t trying to hear it. He did what he did just as any other father would do. He protected his family.”
Another close friend of Wright, Louis Guarnera, added, “I’m proud of him. I’d wear it like a badge of honor. Everyone dies. If you’re gonna die, as a father, what’s better than protecting your family? He really was a great person. I wouldn’t expect nothing else of him. He was all about his family. He always talked about protecting the family, and he did it up until the last minute.”
Frank Mullin, another friend, said, “I cried all day Saturday and Sunday. I cried all day in the shower. It took six showers to get it all out.”
Instead of a moment of silence at the vigil’s end, someone suggested a song, and “The Crossroads” by Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony was played from an iPhone into a microphone. People gave each other a final embrace as bubbles blew into the breezy night sky.
Wright’s last public Facebook post, on May 5, was an inspirational graphic that read, “No matter how good or bad your life is, wake up each day and be thankful you still have one.”