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Tragedy visited the members of Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally’s official staff over the weekend when Michael J. Robbins, one of his part-time field representatives, reportedly killed his wife and then apparently turned the weapon on himself in a bizarre murder-suicide episode that devastated staff members who are considered as close- knit family.
Unnamed sources close to the investigation said that Robbins and Kim Gehring were arguing profusely at their home in Baldwin Hills sometime last Friday and the argument ended abruptly when he apparently shot her.
Assemblyman Dymally issued a formal statement saying, “My thoughts and prayers and those of my entire staff are with the family of Michael Robbins. We are all devastated by this tragedy.” Dymally was unable to be reached for comment however, his chief of staff, Dr. Kenneth Orduna, who has been with him for most of his political career, gave the Los Angeles Sentinel unfettered access into the life of Robbins whom he said was his best friend for 42 years.
Orduna spoke about Robbins with a warmth and sincerity that seemed to indicate that he wanted to tell the world about the time he spent with his friend. He said, “I’m his best friend. Mike and I met in 1968 during Tom Bradley’s first campaign for mayor; he was the advance man for Councilman Bradley and I ran his field operations. And we have just remained close friends ever since. He had a love for fishing; we’d go deep sea fishing as often as we could.” Orduna spelled out Robbins’ family tree, giving names and relations to all – mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and especially the children whom he promised to look after for his best friend, Mike.
The community was shocked by the events as they were reported in the mainstream media. But it’s the people in the community who knew Robbins and were apparently touched by his life that gave a clearer picture of the loss. Dr. Mark Perrault, a noted psychiatrist in private practice had this to say about the incident, “What happened was an unfortunate incident but it’s symptomatic of the difficulties here in the Black community, where people are depressed, stressed and without support, and because of the stigma associated with the mental health system and diagnoses, they seldom go for help. This was a cry for help.”
Orduna continued, “But he (Robbins) also had a game that he mastered that I couldn’t quite master because of my past; he was an avid golfer, one of the best golfers. He loved golfing, so much so, that in Compton, he sponsored a free golf clinic for the youth there providing equipment and everything that was needed. He’s done that for 20 years.
“Mike was never in the military but he was a public servant. His philosophy was ‘service is the rent we pay for the time we spend here on earth,’ so he was always doing something for somebody and he was a great father.”
While speaking to the Sentinel, an individual walked in and Orduna beckoned him over saying, “Nam, come here. This is Nam Le; he is one of Mike’s adopted sons."
Orduna concluded by referring to the tragedy this way, “I pass no judgment. That’s for God. I was not there and I do not know what happened. Merv (Assemblyman Dymally) is his other best friend. Let your life speak for you because you’re going to be judged on what you do here.”