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'She set a really good example for us': Olivia King's family remembers her one year after her death

Olivia King was shot and killed during the Collierville Kroger mass shooting.

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Olivia King's family is still carrying on her legacy one year later.

She was shot and killed as she tried to escape Kroger during the mass shooting in Collierville on Sept. 23, 2021.

"One of the memories I always treasure is she taught me how to pray," Jason King, Olivia King's son, said. "I remember being five years old, we were stationed in Hawaii, and I think there was a storm going on ... I got scared, went into the bathroom, and she prayed with me."

It was a prayer of protection, peace, and faith that the storm will pass. 

Olivia King was a devout Catholic, mother, wife and sister. 

"She was a very giving person even from when she didn't have anything to give," Sue Hornsby, Olivia King's sister, said. 

"Mom went to mass every day. She went the morning of the shooting," Jason King said. 

Jason King is the oldest of Olivia King's three sons. He lives in Virginia and was out with his family that day. 

"I had just talked to mom the night before on video chat," Jason King said. "We were on our way home and that's when my brother, Wesley, the middle brother, had been notified. He said, 'Hey, mom's been shot.'"

"In the military, you learn to compartmentalize things, right?" Jason King said. "When I hear mom's been shot, I just said, 'Well, I'm sure she's fine, right?'"

Jason King was focused on the prayer his mom taught him. 

"She set a really good example for us, and how to live the faith and be a Catholic man," Jason King said.

Olivia's sister, Sue, also got the call.

"Oh, my God," Hornsby said. "I didn't even know, what do you think it was? It was like, 'I couldn't understand. I couldn't comprehend what do you mean, she was shot?'"

Within those minutes of confusion came the hour of uncertainty. 

"I got another phone call from Wes telling me that she had passed away," Jason King said. 

"Nobody ever can imagine something like that happening to someone in your family," Hornsby said. 

"It was still a little bit surreal," Jason King said. "You just don't expect that. You see and hear about mass shootings and some people die ... it's a handful of people, 350 million Americans ... the odds of it being related to you are so low that it's easy to pull out of your mind. Then it happened and it was us."

As reality sank in, so did regret. 

"I had been in Romania for 15 months without my family," Jason King said. "Having not seen my mom, I was looking forward to that fall to bring her up and move her into her house. It's tough because I live in a house that will never be filled by the woman I bought it for. 

"One regret that I have is that I was going to go visit her in October," Hornsby said. "She passed away in September."

One month made a lifetime's difference. 

"I don't get the daily phone calls from my mom anymore, or even weekly," Jason King said. "I think for some people, the more distance you put between yourself and trauma, it sometimes gets a little easier. For me, it's been the opposite."

"I'm 42. I've got my own family," Jason King continued. "I'm fully capable, but at the same time, I was still my mother's little boy."

Olivia King's voice continues to echo through those she touched. 

"We, as a family, we do forgive the shooter and we pray for his soul," Jason King said. "We certainly empathize with his family and his friends who have to live with this terrible deed that their friend and son committed."

"A year later, I understand what my nephews were doing and how they reacted to the whole situation," Hornsby said. "They were extremely strong. Their faith is what carried them through all of that. That's what's carrying us now through it as well."

Standing on faith's shoulders brought peace. 

"When I got to Collierville after the shooting, the amount of people that knew my mom and were positively impacted by her was insane," Jason King said. "I would give anything to have my mom back, but God draws all these silver linings out of even terrible tragedies. One of the silver linings is my family got to see what an impact my mom made and all the lives that she touched."

During the shooting, there was a man and his son that stayed with Olivia King the entire time. They prayed with her and were the first to notify her sons of the shooting. 

Olivia's family doesn't know who those two men were, but they wanted to say thank you. 

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