17 News concludes our Red Cross Real Heroes profiles with the story of Navy Lieutenant David Reis and his sister Karen. The brother and sister were shot to death in Coronado on New Year's Day. The family sat down with 17 News for their first TV interview since that tragic day.
David and Karen Reis shared a close bond at a young age. "We have pictures of the two of them sitting side by side, for the last 23 or 24 years. They're not sporadic. When they were together, they would always get a picture together," said father Tom Reis.
Their last picture together would be their last night alive. Their last photo was snapped New Year's Eve, hours before they were shot to death, along with two other men inside David Reis' Coronado condo. Sheriff's investigators said later that week that his roommate killed the other three, before killing himself. But now, they aren't saying who pulled the trigger.
"In a really surreal way, it was almost a relief that they had been shot. David hasn't used his gun. It was a good feeling to know they hadn't done anything wrong and they lived even in the last moments with integrity," said mother Patty Reis.
David Reis was outside talking with a friend when he heard gunshots inside. As he ran into his home, he was shot and killed in the doorway.
"He took protecting his sister very seriously. As much as I'd like to think he would have thought twice before entering the condo in San Diego, we know he didn't. He took his job seriously, and that's what he was doing that night," said Tom Reis.
On New Year's Day, Tom Reis was on his way back to Bakersfield after dropping off his youngest daughter, Melanie, at school in San Luis Obispo. Patty Reis was home watching TV when she first saw the news that four people had been fatally shot in San Diego.
"I went to my computer. As I got more nervous, it just didn't feel right. I punched in a few things and about the third screen that came up, I saw his address. It was pretty much from that point on I knew they weren't alive anymore," explained Patty Reis.
"It felt really surreal. I didn't feel like it was real. I thought they had mixed up the bodies. Things like this don't happen. I think the statement I kept saying to myself that week was 'this is real'," said sister Melanie Reis.
It is still difficult for Melanie Reis to accept and sometimes even remember that her big brother and sister are gone.
"I still think they are going to walk through the front door. I'll start to call them or text them, and I'll realize I can't, but I definitely talk to them still," said Melanie Reis.
The Reis family spent their final Christmas together in Coronado. One of their final photos shows how much fun the four siblings all had together, twisting their bodies in an effort to spell their last name on a San Diego beach.
"Every day was an adventure with them, trying all the things you would be hesitant to do. You wouldn't hesitate with David and Karen," said Melanie Reis.
David and Karen Reis lived for adventure. David Reis had a passion for flying. He was a FA-18 jet pilot based at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego.
"When he started flying he called us all the time after flights. I knew when my phone rang, I knew I had to have some time set aside. He was going to chat on about all the details of his flights," said Patty Reis.
David's love for flying was just as strong as his love for his sister, who was a standout volleyball player and UC San Diego graduate.
"Karen was basically my best friend. She was my number one speed dial. She was going to be my maid of honor. I miss her the most," said Melanie Reis.
That void will also never be filled for Patty Reis. "It hasn't really all the way hit yet. It's still pretty unthinkable. It's still kind of raw," she said.
Pictures of the Reis siblings are everywhere in the family home. Their family was surprised to learn that the brother and sister seemed to be everywhere helping others before they died.
"Hearing all the stories of what they did to help people, that was humbling. David helped somebody through their college physics class after they flunked three times. We got a couple of cards from people who went on to grad school at UC San Diego. They said they wouldn't have done it if it weren't for Karen," continued Patty Reis.
The Reis family wants others to share the unselfish spirit their children personified. They have created the 'Reis Ripple.' The family asks people to wear bright bracelets that challenge people to help others feel special and succeed.
"You do effect so many people's lives every day, positive and negative. If we would all choose to live positively and selflessly like they did, the things we do will ripple out," said Patty Reis.
The investigation into David and Karen Reis' killings continues. 17 News expects to learn more in the next few weeks, as investigators wait for lab results from the crime scene.
If you are interested in a bracelet to honor their memory, go to