Publix Shooting: Exclusive interview with suspect's family

11:16 PM, Apr 2, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Publix Shooting: Exclusive interview with suspect's family

A 1999 booking photo of Arunya Rouch, from when she was arrested for refusing to sign a traffic citation.

Tampa, Florida - Arunya Rouch grew up without a stove.

She was raised in the poorest section of Bangkok, Thailand until she moved to the United States.  She had never baked anything in an oven in her entire life.

The night before she allegedly shot a co-worker, Rouch baked cupcakes for the first time and couldn't wait to share them with her husband the next day.

That moment would never come.

The 41-year-old moved to the Bay area years ago.  She a heart condition in college, her family says, so she moved to Florida to have heart surgery in St. Petersburg.  Her mother also lived here at the time.

One thing no one ever doubted was her love for the United States.

She worked hard for her citizenship five years ago, studying for months and practicing singing the Star Spangled Banner in her bedroom.  Her family has a picture of her next to an American flag, with a large certificate in her hand standing in her in-laws driveway in Palm Harbor.

Rouch fell in love with her husband, Tom, when they began working together at Jabil Circuit.

After they began dating, they also began careers at Publix. She had been working at the Tarpon Springs store for five years and recently received a five-year service award. Her husband works at the store in Palm Harbor.

Theirs was a life filled with family and church.

Rouch was a Buddhist while living in Thailand and converted to Christianity upon moving to the U.S. When she and Tom bought their home in Tarpon Springs, she clasped her hands in prayer that night, her mother-in-law Phyllis said, and got her on knees and prayed.

On Tuesday, March 30th, Rouch made big plans with her husband. She wanted him to try the cupcakes she baked and grill steaks with him. The two were excited for dinner that night.

As she pulled out of the driveway, she waved to him and said, "See you at dinner."

That was the last time Tom talked with his wife.

The next time he saw her, she was unconscious in the hospital at Bayfront Medical Center with a tube down her throat.  Tom saw her and whispered in her ear, "I love you very much."

Rouch has not woken up yet.

From her home in Palm Harbor, Rouch's mother-in-law spoke of the 41-year-old whom she called her "daughter."

"We adopted her," she said. "From the very beginning. We always knew. We loved her before they ever got married."

The family is devastated and wondering what will happen next, scared that Rouch may not make it.

Phyllis tearfully said, "She's a vital part of our family. She was that kind of person. We feel terrible for the other family... and give our condolences to them."

The family says it is painful for them, but they also realize how difficult it is for the victim's family, as well.

Rouch is accused of gunning down her co-worker, Greg Janowski, at the Tarpon Springs Publix on Tuesday.  Sources say she was convinced that he had something to do with her firing, which happened Tuesday morning.

The family, however, paints a very different picture.

"She was well-loved by Publix. They would always bring her in to set up other seafood counters when they would open a store. They loved her."

Rouch's husband and family have been unable to see her, since she is under arrest on murder charges. The judge denied the family's request to be with her in the intensive care unit.

Tom reportedly told a doctor on Thursday over the phone, "If she should wake up, tell her we'll be here for her. It's really, really hard."

Rouch's relatives say they were planning to attend Easter services at their local church, but do not know if they are strong enough to be in church.

"I don't know if I can stop crying. I don't want to ruin it for anyone else," Phyllis Rouch said.

Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects

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