Survivors Mark Anniversaries of School Shootings as Another Deadly One Takes Place – NBC Chicago

Valentine’s Day heartbreak is once again on full display as a deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University casts a dark shadow over the annual holiday.

But for many, the day has long carried a heavy reminder of not one, but two – and now three – school shootings.

The Michigan State University shooting happened on the eve of anniversaries marking five years since the Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and 15 years since the mass shooting at Northern Illinois University.

Today’s remembrance is even more somber as Michigan State University is experiencing its own tragedy,” NIU President Lisa C. Freeman wrote in a message to the school Tuesday. “We understand too well the fear, uncertainty and profound sadness they face. The entire Spartan community is in our thoughts, and we know that they will find the strength and compassion to guide them through what’s ahead.”

Three students were killed and five others wounded when a gunman opened fire on the MSU East Lansing campus Monday night. The three victims were identified as sophomore Brian Fraser and juniors Alexandria Verner and Arielle Anderson.

At NIU, five students—Gayle Dubowski, Ryanne Mace, Catalina Gracia, Julianna Gehant and Daniel Parmenter—were killed in the shooting and 17 others were wounded. 

In Parkland, Florida, a gunman murdered 14 students and three staff members. Among those killed were:

  • Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
  • Scott Beigel, 35
  • Martin Duque, 14
  • Nicholas Dworet, 17
  • Aaron Feis, 37
  • Jaime Guttenberg, 14
  • Chris Hixon, 49
  • Luke Hoyer, 15
  • Cara Loughran, 14
  • Gina Montalto, 14
  • Joaquin Oliver, 17
  • Alaina Petty, 14
  • Meadow Pollack, 18
  • Helena Ramsay, 17
  • Alex Schachter, 14
  • Carmen Schentrup, 16
  • Peter Wang, 15

Families of the victims have long been left with a burning question: How do we go on with our lives while honoring our loved one’s memory?

Most have answered by starting foundations or performing other charitable work dedicated to a variety of causes: protecting students; building parks and gardens; providing scholarships; fighting disease and helping the disabled; sending kids to camp; teaching children to swim, dance, create art or play music and sports; and tightening gun laws.

“We continue to hold their families very close to our hearts. We also recognize the incredible ways in which our community cares for one another and continues to move NIU forward,” Freeman said.

“For all of them, their biggest fear was that their loved one would be forgotten,” said Florida state Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, who was Parkland’s mayor in 2018 when the shooting happened. “They do this work to keep their spirit alive.”

Still, she said, “It is really important to remember that no matter how many ‘good things’ have come out of the aftermath, no one is ever the same again. No one loses that pain.”

For the parents of the victims at MSU, the grief is all too fresh.

“My heart bleeds for them — I know what those (Michigan State) families are going to go through,” said Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex died at Stoneman Douglas. “It is just horrible.”

For student survivors, it’s a grief many say they will carry forever.

“It will always be apart of me, and it’s always in my head,” Patrick Korellis, who was a senior at NIU at the time of the 2008 shooting, told Breaking News Of World. “It does get easier as time goes on, but that scar is there forever.” 

Korellis has been reaching out to new victims to help them cope as mass shootings happen across the U.S.

“I just wish something could be done. I don’t want to keep having to keeping talking to these victims over and over again. Watch these numbers grow. I want the numbers to stop and everyone not to ever experience that,” he said.

Claire Papoulias, a sophomore at Michigan State University, said it’s the screams she’ll never forget.

Papoulias was at a Cuban history class inside Berkey Hall Monday when she heard the sound of gunshots behind her. She told NBC’s “TODAY” show that she smelled the gun fire and immediately dropped to the ground.

“At that moment, I thought I was going to die,” Papoulas said.

Papoulias said the shooter didn’t say anything as he opened fire inside the classroom.

“I’ll never forget the screams of my classmates begging for help,” she said.

Police are still searching for a motive behind the mass shooting at Michigan State University.

The suspect behind the shooting, who was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after the gunfire first erupted, had no ties to the university, authorities said.

“This truly has been a nightmare that we are living tonight, but we have remained laser focused on the safety of our campus, our students and the surrounding community. We are relieved to no longer have an active threat on campus, while we realize that there [will be] so much healing that will need to take place after this,” Rozman said during a press conference Monday.

Officials said the ongoing investigation into the incident is in its early stages, and police expect to share more information as it becomes available.

Michigan State has about 50,000 students, including 19,000 who live on campus. All classes, sports and other activities have been canceled for 48 hours.

Interim university President Teresa Woodruff said it would be a time “to think and grieve and come together.”

“This Spartan community — this family — will come back together,” Woodruff said.

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