In the shadow of tragedy, as the Las Vegas community mourned the irreplaceable loss of three cherished educators in the horrific December 6th massacre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, further heartache was wrought upon the memory of one. On a chilled winter day, December 26th, the sanctity of the late Naoko Takemaru’s home was violated by the hands of callous thieves.
Naoko Takemaru, aged 69, an esteemed associate professor of Japanese Studies at UNLV, had been a victim of senseless violence earlier in the month. Known for her illuminating work, including the notable publication, “Women in the Language and Society of Japan: The Linguistic Roots of Bias,” her scholarly contributions had touched the lives of many.
On that deplorable afternoon, as reported by KLAS-TV of Las Vegas, a neighbor bearing witness to a woman exiting Professor Takemaru’s residence with pilfered possessions promptly alerted the authorities. Upon arrival, the police discovered the home in disarray, despoiled by the opportunistic marauders who had departed, with obscured visages, in their waiting vehicle.
A search ensued, a somber echo of the tragedy that preceded it. Though what items were lost to the burglars remains unclear, one officer noted the poignant contrast of the ransacked dwelling and the flowers tenderly placed outside, a community’s homage to a revered educator.
In the aftermath, law enforcement has since fortified the bastion that once housed the spirit of a scholarly beacon. They have pledged greater vigilance, in hopes that what happened in the wake of such sorrow would not be repeated.
At the epicenter of this tragic saga lay the shooter, Tony Polito, 67, fueled by his perceived injustices of unsuccessful employment pursuits at UNLV. In an act of revenge, with firearm in hand, he tore through the tranquility of the campus, indiscriminately ending the journeys of Takemaru alongside fellow professors Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang and Patricia Navarro Velez. Polito’s rampage climaxed in an exchange of gunfire with police, culminating in his demise.
Amid the darkness, a spark of hope endures. The UNLV Foundation has since established scholarships, immortalizing the legacies of the three departed souls. Their memories, and the indelible marks they left upon the university and its students, are thus honored, a testament to lives of impact and the resilience of a community in the face of anguish.