President Barack Obama presides over a naturalization ceremony as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano administers the oath of citizenship to members of the U.S. military at the White House, July 4, 2012. (Official White House photo)
NEW YORK (AP) - A U.S. military member who became an American citizen during a 2012 White House ceremony and her two toddlers were murdered in New York over the weekend. Police have arrested the children's father.
Alla Ausheva, 37, Ivan Walker, 2, and Elia Walker, 3, were found dead Saturday in their Staten Island home.
Ausheva had obtained a protective order against the suspect, Shane Walker, 36, but it was no longer in effect, The New York Times reported.
Ausheva moved from Saint Petersburg, Russia, to Queens in 2011 and soon joined the New York Army National Guard. In 2014, she transferred to the Air National Guard. She was serving full time on active duty with a homeland security force based at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, according to a military spokeswoman.
She became a U.S. citizen on July 4, 2012.
"All of you did something profound: You chose to serve," then President Barack Obama told Ausheva and 24 other immigrant service members during the naturalization ceremony. "You put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. You displayed the values that we celebrate every Fourth of July — duty, responsibility and patriotism."
She also was passionate about music.
"She was a very determined young woman; she was charming and so enthusiastic," said Linda Amiel Burns, founder of a workshop called The Singing Experience.
A YouTube video shows Ausheva performing in Russian and English.
"One year ago I moved from Russia. That's when my first dream came true," Ausheva said onstage. "Then in the summer, I joined the U.S. Army. That's when my second dream came true. Now, I'm singing on a real stage and not in the shower. My third dream came true. And now I wonder what's next."
A comment she made during a song introduction now bears added poignancy: "Sometimes life separates us from the person we love and all we have are our memories."
The father of her children, Walker, also served in the Army National Guard and later joined the Air National Guard, working as a vehicle operator, officials said.
He was hospitalized over the weekend after being found walking along a highway. He had not yet been arraigned on Monday, according to the Staten Island district attorney's office.
There was no immediate information on an attorney who could comment on his behalf.