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Tami and Rick Shumway inhabit the world that Suljo and Sabira Talovic just inherited - life without the luxury of denial.

The Shumways' son was barely 15 when he stabbed a friend to death during a sleep- over. The idea that their son could kill another was impossible to fathom at the time. Even today, as Brookes Shumway enters his eighth year in custody, ''murderer'' is not a label that meshes with the child they raised.

In that sense, Tami Shumway understands what the Talovic family is going through - the grief, the guilt, confusion and scorn - and she has a message for them.

''There are going to be those nuts out there who say it's your fault, that you should have known something was wrong. But not all of us are judging you. Most of us do not blame you for what your son did.''

Sulejman Talovic, 18, killed five people and wounded four others during a Feb. 12 shooting rampage at Trolley Square. The teen was killed by police officers at the scene, and he apparently left no clues to his motive.

In the week since, many other questions have surfaced, and one in particular picks at the heart of parents everywhere. If your child does something like this, how can you possibly cope?

Shumway shared her insights in a recent interview. So did James Garbarino, a Loyola University Chicago professor and counselor whose specialty is kids who kill.

Garbarino's 2001 book, Parents Under Siege: Why You Are the Solution, Not the Problem in Your Children's Life is a how-to guide for rearing difficult children in a difficult society, and a security blanket of sorts for parents who too often absorb the blame.

The book is dedicated to Tom and Susan Klebold, parents of Dylan Klebold, who, along with classmate Eric Harris, killed 12 high schoolers and teachers at Columbine High in Colorado. The shootings occurred April 20, 1999 - the same day Garbarino debuted a different book: Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.

In an instant, Garbarino and his partner, Claire Bedard, were on every journalist's ''to interview'' list and many parents' ''to thank'' list, including the Klebolds.

The Littleton, Colo., couple read the book and found some comfort in learning they did not fit the pattern for families of lethally violent kids, Garbarino writes. But that did not stop others from blaming them, threatening them, hating them and suing them.

The Klebolds considered moving away and changing their names, but ultimately concluded: You can't run from something like this. You can, they found, count on the kindness of friends, family, neighbors and strangers to help get you through it.

"Almost anybody in these situations is rocked with competing feelings of grief at their own loss and bewilderment of how this happened in their family," Garbarino says. "Community response can determine the rest."

Tami Shumway can attest to that. Her family received death threats and had to install a home security system, she says. Her daughter dropped out of high school to get away from the cruel comments and confrontations relating to her brother.

But those incidents were outnumbered by the acts of kindness, sympathy letters and financial support she and Rick received as they grappled with their new reality. Then again, Shumway points out, they didn't lose their son forever.

"They still have a funeral to plan," Tami Shumway says of the Talovic family. "It must be so hard for them to do that and deal with everything else. I really feel bad for them."

Unlike the Shumways, the Talovic family has not received a single threat or unkind word, the father, Suljo Talovic, says. Rather, strangers have covered his stoop with flowers and balloons, messages of sorrow and offers of friendship. More than $1,000 has been donated to help with funeral expenses; the family intends to bury Sulejman in Bosnia where he was born.

"I am surprised," Talovic told The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday, speaking through an interpreter. "I would have thought when something like this happened that people would be the opposite - that they would be aggressive. But every single person is supportive."

That includes the greater Bosnian community.

About two dozen Bosnians gathered at the Bosna Restaurant on Friday night to hear from Bosnian Ambassador Bisera Turkovic, who flew in from Washington, D.C., to offer her condolences and work with the community.

"We should be together in pain," Turkovic told The Tribune. "They feel sadness and shame, but they do not feel guilty or responsible. They are slowly coming back to normal."

On the bar are two boxes, one to collect donations for the victims - the group has already given $1,000 to the Wells Fargo Account - and the other to help pay the $10,000 tab for the trip to Bosnia.

Compassion based on understanding is essential to the recovery of parents such as the Shumways and the Talovics, Garbarino says. It's also the starting point for helping kids develop empathy and other virtues of character they need for a successful life.

And, as demonstrated in Utah, people do not have to endure similar tragedies to relate. They only have to acknowledge that bad things happen to good people.


* PEGGY FLETCHER STACK and RUSS RIZZO contributed to this story.