Seniors recount the NIU shootings from their freshman year

Amy Kreeger

This year, fourth-year seniors will be some of the last students who were on campus when a gunman entered Cole Hall and open fire three years ago.

At the end of the day, five NIU students were killed and 17 were injured. Cole Lightfoot knew at least one of the injured.

“I know someone who got a gun pellet into her hand, and she had to go to the hospital,” said the senior biology major.

Senior sociology major Phillip Davis said he learned his friend was in the hallway of Cole Hall when the shootings happened.

“I’m glad he made it out alive,” Davis said. “It’s a scary situation; it can happen to anyone.”

Senior biology major Alex Bean said he was coming out of the Music Building when he and everyone around him received text messages telling them what happened.

“I know people who were in the room when it happened,” Bean said. “It was pretty frightening.”

Darius Jackson, senior public health major, was in the library for a math tutor session at the time of the shootings.

“Three people ran in and said there was a shootings. I was wondering if they were kidding until I walked outside and saw people getting carried out on stretchers and a helicopter above my head,” Jackson said. “That’s when I knew it was real.”

Davis said from time to time he visits the Forward, Together Forward Memorial Garden in front of Cole Hall.

“I pray it won’t happen again,” Davis said.

Lightfoot said he prefers to remember in private.

“I prefer to keep to myself and surround myself with mainly those who were there with me,” Lightfoot said. “They are the ones who really understand what going through that is like.”

Fourth-year history major Damien Washington said the shooting helped him shape his perspective on life.

“It makes me want to live my life to the fullest,” Washington said. “In my way, on my terms. Life is too short not to live it.”

Lightfoot said he never forgets the people who were killed.

“In the back of my head I always see the faces of the lives that were lost,” Lightfoot said.

Bean said he remembers in a different way.

“I don’t do anything special, but I make sure not to forget and think of it often,” Bean said. “I don’t want it to be forgotten.”

Bean said because of the shootings, he realized tragic events can happen anywhere.

“I think it has broken down the barriers between what happens on the news and real life,” Bean said. “These things can happen close to home as well as anywhere else.”