‘It completely shook me to my core:’ Remembering the victims in deadly West Knoxville restaurant shooting

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One day after a deadly shooting at a West Knoxville restaurant, we’re hearing from a friend and former employee of the victims.

Three people died, including the alleged gunman.

Police identified the victims as 26-year-old Alexis Clayton and 50-year-old Rob Goebel. Investigators say Christopher MacGuire, 27, killed the two and later took his own life. Officers say this all unfolded on Sunday morning at Cazzy’s Corner Grill.

‘She was a great light’: Alexis Clayton remembered by close friend

Clayton’s friend Beth Tomkins took some time on Monday to remember her life and the memories they made through a shared passion.

“I cannot tell you a single time that Alexis showed up anywhere to an open mic or one of our comedy shows that people didn’t flock to say hello and see her. She was absolutely that person that when she walked in, we all knew we had a friend in the room,” Tomkins said.

Tomkins said she met Clayton a few years ago through Knoxville’s comedy scene. It’s where she says she saw Clayton’s light and warmth on full display.

“She was somebody that we knew would always greet us with a smile. Would always give us her ear, and give us her time. And that was all offstage. That was not performance Alexis… that was Alex. That was who we lost this weekend,” Tomkins said.

The 26-year-old was one of two Cazzy’s Corner Grill employees shot and killed at the restaurant on Sunday.

The news is hard to process for those who care about Clayton.

“I felt like someone had just kicked me in my heart,” Tomkins said. “Hearing about what happened yesterday doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of us. Just out of all the people, not that you’d ever want it to happen to anybody, but why would it happen to her? And so we’re all kind of reeling.”

And as she tries to cope with the loss, Tomkins is remembering her friend’s poetic heart and sweet soul.

“She was a great light in our community. I keep coming back to that idea, that she was a light that has gone out,” Tomkins said.

Rob Goebel remembered by former employee

A former employee of the second victim Rob Goebel, Aaron Daniel Miracle, also reflected on his memories with the 50-year-old.

“He basically hired me on the spot. And if it hadn’t had been for that moment, I don’t know where I would be in life,” Miracle said.

Miracle says he worked with Goebel at Calhoun’s in Turkey Creek, where he was the general manager.

“He was really funny, he had a great sense of humor. But he took his work very seriously. He had a lot of pride in his position, in his restaurant,” Miracle said. “He made everyone else around him step up. If Rob was around, you couldn’t slack off, you couldn’t take it easy. He had high standards.”

Miracle also shared his reaction to hearing of Goebel’s death on Sunday.

“It completely shook me to my core. Just shocked and stunned,” he said

We also heard from Cazzy’s Corner Grill’s owner in a statement on Sunday:

“We are devastated and heartbroken by today’s events. We are praying for the victims, their families and friends, and all those who witnessed the senseless tragedy.

We are arranging grief counseling and support for our employees, and we encourage everyone to consider this resource as we cope with what has happened.

We are grateful for the outreach, and comforting thoughts and prayers from our loyal customers and friends. We look forward to seeing everyone when we are able to reopen our restaurant. 

We are working closely with local law enforcement who are conducting an active investigation. Because of this ongoing investigation, we refer all media questions to the local law enforcement agencies working this case, and we will have no further comment at this time.”

A Gofundme has been established to support Cazzy’s staff while the restaurant remains closed. The restaurant maintains a staff of around 40 people.

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