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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU stands ‘Forward, Together Forward,’ honors victims of 2008 shooting

Sean Reed
Robert Greer (left) and his wife Linda Greer, mother of 2008 shooting victim Daniel Parmenter, walk along the “Forward, Together Forward” memorial garden after the vigil Wednesday near Cole Hall. Parmenter was a sophomore finance major at NIU before his death in 2008. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU honored the victims of the 2008 shooting at 3:06 p.m. Wednesday with a tolling of five bells to represent each life lost 16 years ago. The event took place outside Cole Hall, the building in which the shooting occurred. 

On Feb. 14, 2008, NIU students Gayle Dubowski, 20, Catalina Garcia, 20, Julianna Gehant, 32, Ryanne Mace, 19, and Daniel Parmenter, 20, were violently killed when an active shooter entered Cole Hall.

To remember this tragedy, NIU awards the Forward, Together Forward Scholarship to up to five undergraduate students. 

“The scholarship is for other students to stay here and go on with their careers,” said Charlotte Gehant, aunt of Julianna Gehant. “I know that they (students) have to submit a letter all about yourself, what you do on a daily basis, what you’re studying, you know, where you came from, what your goals are. That kind of thing.”

The ceremony itself had an attendance of about 50 people, made up of students, staff and family members of the victims. As the bells tolled, family members of the victims placed flowers at Cole Hall’s Memorial Garden and stood for a moment of silence. 

Lawrence Gehant, U.S. Army Veteran and uncle of Julianna Gehant, and Charlotte Gehant reflected on NIU’s remembrance of the victims through the years and appreciated the effort the community has put into honoring the victims while noting the importance of honoring the survivors. 

“We have to not only remember the five that are out here being represented, but what about all the students that were in the hall?” Charlotte Gehant said. “There were like 22 that were hurt. Some had surgery; some actually had bullet wounds.” 

Lawrence Gehant felt the survivors faced horrors themselves and deserved recognition for what they endured during the shooting.

“They’re just as important to this too,” Lawrence Gehant said.

Sophomore computer science major Abril Morales noted more students were at the 2023 remembrance compared to the 2024 one. Morales attended the event to honor the victims’ families.

“One thing I do notice is that, like, they (NIU), don’t really, like, bring it out as much as them (the victims) being, like, victims, I guess, but more like them still being part of the school,” Morales said. “It’s more like we’re all together in this; they’re (the families) not alone.” 

Graduate student Spencer Mosner was a first-time attendee at the Forward, Together Forward event and noted the improvements NIU has done on notifying students on safety issues. 

“I think, not necessarily social media, but electronic services through email are doing a lot to update students on what’s going on throughout campus, whether it be during the day or at night,” Mosner said. 

As the event wrapped up, Charlotte Gehant expressed appreciation for NIU and how supportive they have been through the tragedy. 

“They’ve (the NIU community) always been there in support; that’s why they come now,” Charlotte Gahent said. “I mean, this is a personal thing, not just a big campus. It’s individual, and they bring it out in that way.” 

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