My First School Shooting
Art by Moebius
Sit down and a light a blunt. If you need to roll some weed, don’t worry, I’ll wait for you underneath the palm trees and the night sky. It’s storytime at Literary Loud. This is the true story of me surviving my first and last school shooting.
February 14th, 2008
I was attending Northern Illinois University. It was a cold, damp day on campus and I was at the library reading a bizarro book instead of studying. The book in question was The Greatest Fucking Moment In Sports by Kevin L. Donihe. I was having a good time, laughing out loud and cheesing. It’s a funny ass book btw.
The alarms go off in the library and a nasally voice comes on the loudspeaker. “Everyone exit the library at once.”
I was confused and pissed off mainly because I was comfortably enjoying this book and I had plenty of time to kill before my next class. Everyone else was looking just as confused as we slowly went downstairs and was met by a swarm of SWAT team officers pouring into the lobby. Big ass guns are being toted, face masks, bullet-proof armor, and batons are out in the open. Something serious is happening.
So now I’m thinking what the fuck is going on. SWAT refuses to answer any questions and tells students to leave. I’m wondering why they’re being so aggressive and unhelpful, but I keep it moving towards the exit. A random girl starts crying in front of an officer and starts becoming hysterical. He doesn’t care one iota.
I get outside and there are pockets of students crying and news reporters setting up shop frantically. I overhear a girl say “he was shot” while her eyes are full of tears. People are hugging and their morose energy becomes interwoven into the tense atmosphere.
Throngs of people increase in a matter of minutes as everyone’s forced to evacuate the surrounding buildings. My phone starts going off and it’s my parents trying to call me. I answer the phone, but my parents can’t hear a single word out of my mouth. There are so many people calling at one time, calls can’t get through. Technology is failing us in a time of need.
The fear begins to spread like an insidious presence throughout campus. They say the shooter is still loose and warn us to be careful. Students are crying everywhere, sirens are going off in the distance, and some alarm is wailing in the background.
It felt surreal and I think I disassociated for a moment because I thought something like this would never happen to me. I mean I’ve seen dead bodies before, attended plenty funerals, heard gunshots in Chicago, but I felt like this was some shit I was never suppose to witness.
Someone pointed out the shooting happened in Cole Hall. I had a couple classes there three times a week and thankfully that day was a day I just so happened to be off. The crazy thing is the hall was only a minute away from the library. That easily could’ve been me getting shot up.
Former NIU graduate, Steven Kazmierczak, came in the back door of the lecture hall wearing a t-shirt with the word “Terrorist” and opened fire with a shotgun & three pistols, killing 5 students and injuring 17. He shot himself before police could get to him. He had a history of mental health issues and studied previous school shootings despite being labeled a nice yet sensitive individual.
I finally got through to my parents and my dad cussed me out, “why the fuck aren’t you answering your phone.” This was one of the rare times I ever heard any sort of fear present in my dad’s voice. I reassured him and my mom that I was okay.
Another voice issued a warning throughout campus…"There has been a report of a possible gunman on campus. Get to a safe area and take precautions until given the all clear. Avoid the King Commons and all buildings in that vicinity."
I checked on a few of my people, making sure they were okay and I walked with a couple friends of mine, looking for a “safe space.” They were letting students back into the dorms, but that felt like a nightmare scenario. I just imagined myself getting trapped inside like a mouse.
Outside wasn’t much better, but at least I could see what the hell was going on and be aware of my surroundings. Even though the shooter killed himself, this information wasn’t released to students until the next day.
Classes were cancelled, a memorial was held and thankfully I was okay. I didn’t know any of the students who were killed, but I had friends who were friends with them.
I always thought this would be an isolated situation and the concept of mass shootings/school shootings wouldn’t eventually fad out. Little did I know mass shootings would become pretty commonplace in America. I mean there were 300 mass shootings this year alone according to the Gun Violence Archive, 27 of which were school shootings.
I’m no politician, but something’s gotta change and hopefully things change soon…
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