A San Pedro woman's family members said Monday they are grasping for answers to understand why her boyfriend suddenly shot her to death during a fight over the weekend.
And at the same time, Johnny O'Kane's family members and colleagues at the Ironworkers Local 433 cannot fathom why the union official they so respected would commit murder and take his own life.
No one saw it coming, especially on his 55th birthday.
"My sweet brother Johnny is gone," O'Kane's sister, Patricia O'Kane Ey, wrote on her Facebook page. "I'll never hear his voice or see his handsome face again ... I love you so much and will miss you forever ... why Johnny ... why? you were so loved and admired."
Police said O'Kane chased his girlfriend, Michelle Stamper, out of his house in the 3100 block of Almeria Street at 10:30 p.m. Friday and shot her dead under a tree across the street.
Stamper, 45, died instantly.
O'Kane called police and said he had shot a woman. When officers arrived, they discovered O'Kane inside his house. He had shot himself in the head.
O'Kane died at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
"He walked out and shot her," said James Stamper, Michelle Stamper's cousin in Fairbanks, Alaska. "He called 911 from the porch and then shot himself. He never explained why he did it."
Stamper's uncle, who asked that his name not be published, said he also had no idea why O'Kane would kill his niece.
"That's the million-dollar question," he said. "Nobody seems to know."
The couple, family members said, had dated about a year. Each had previously been married. Michelle Stamper, known to her friends as "Shellie," had three grown children. O'Kane had two.
O'Kane was a popular business agent with the ironworkers union, working his way up from jobs in the field to working in the office in the City of Industry on behalf of about 4,000 people. The ironworkers union website congratulates him for "being recognized as the Labor Leader of the Year!"
O'Kane was staunchly against Proposition 32, a measure on today's ballot that would ban donations to state and local candidates by unions and corporations.
"Brothers and Sisters, I cannot stress the importance of this upcoming election and how important it will be for you to get involved," O'Kane wrote on the site. "This is your livelihood that is on the line. Prop 32 is a one-two punch to knock us out ... What's at stake is our pay, our jobs, worker health and safety and our right to have a union."
Mike Silvey, the local's financial secretary and business manager, said O'Kane was in elective office for about nine years and was highly respected.
"We are all shocked," Silvey said. "We don't know what might have precipitated this."
O'Kane spoke on behalf of his fellow ironworkers before the Los Angeles City Council and wrote letters to the editor at the Daily Breeze. On the SanPedroNewsPilot.com website, O'Kane listed the Lighthouse, Iron City, Pirates Leather and Walkers as some of his favorite hangouts and shops.
Under "My San Pedro secret," he wrote, "I'll take em to the grave."
On her own Facebook page, Stamper followed the "No on 32," and "Yes on 30" websites, as well as the "Crime in San Pedro" page that reported her death.
A photograph of Stamper displaying a "Honk" sign during an anti-Proposition 32 demonstration is displayed prominently on Patricia O'Kane Ey's Facebook page.
"Sweet Shellie ... miss you ... so sorry ... xox," O'Kane's sister wrote.
Follow Larry Altman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/larryaltman