MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – The Maryland Heights employee who was killed Monday night touched many lives.
At an early age, Maria Lucas developed a reputation for helping others.
“It was her nature. It was her personality,” Paulette Grant said.
Grant first met Lucas at Ladue High School orientation. Lucas was a junior at the time.
“Being a freshman, you’re kind of nervous. And anxious. But she helped me to relax. She encouraged me,” Grant said.
Lucas was involved in a variety of organizations. She managed several sports teams. She was also committed to service. One of her yearbooks featured Lucas in a section called “Thoughtful Students.”
The 1992 graduate introduced Grant to Special Olympics and Saturday Project, a monthly initiative dedicated to spending time with students from underserved communities.
“If she really hadn’t introduced me to, and really stressed, ‘You should try this, you should try this,’ I probably wouldn’t have done it. I’m really grateful to her introducing those opportunities to me,” Grant said.
Lucas later worked for the Special School District for 15 years.
Most recently, she was a supervisor at the Maryland Heights Community Center.
On Monday night, she was shot by a part-time janitor who had been sent home for the day.
“When I saw it was her, I felt like I had been punched in my stomach. I just couldn’t believe – I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Maria?’” Grant said.
Grant said she is grateful for having gotten to call Maria Lucas a friend. She said she sends her thoughts and love to Lucas’ family.
“I’m praying for you. We love Maria, too. The people at Ladue. People who did Saturday projects. Special Olympics. Anyone who came into contact with her. I’m so, so very sorry for your loss.”
Lucas was 45. A remembrance will be held for her in Maryland Heights on Monday, one week after the deadly incident.