EVERETT — Karen Van Horn describes her younger sister in a single word: “classy.”
Shayla Martin, 52, of Mount Vernon, spent decades selling dresses and makeup at Macy’s.
Martin did not come home Friday night. Van Horn said her family has heard from a witness to the shootings that her sister was among the dead.
While there was no official confirmation by Saturday afternoon, Van Horn said she’s certain her sister is gone. The identities of other victims, too, were beginning to emerge Saturday as those who knew them surmised on social media that they were dead.
“I would have heard something,” said Van Horn, a longtime employee of The Daily Herald.
She was headed to Skagit County from Everett to be with Martin’s boyfriend and others keeping vigil.
“She was so sweet,” Van Horn said Saturday afternoon. “She was just very indpendent. She wanted to make her own way. She didn’t want to rely on anyone else.”
Her sister loved gymnastics and dance when she was young, and as a teen she worked at restaurants her parents had operated in Mount Vernon and Everett.
She was an avid reader, regularly devouring two or three books a week. She also had a practical streak.
“She liked the finer things in life and it didn’t always fit her pocket book,” Van Horn said. “She made things work. She wasn’t above going to Value Village. She was very classy.”
Van Horn said she learned that something was wrong when she was contacted by a niece who had heard about the shootings and was worried because she couldn’t reach Martin. Van Horn said she’d called her sister earlier and wasn’t initially worried when she didn’t hear back.
Then she saw coverage of the shootings on television.