Friday, February 15, 2008

Blogging the NIU Press Conference


I have been planning to write about several different topics, but find myself once again focused on a university shooting, this time at Northern Illinois University . Twenty-one shot and 5 killed, with the shooter also killing himself. I can't process my emotions yet, but instead will report on the press conference, which I am watching live on CNN.

9:35 NIU President John Peters is doing a good job. Emergency teams, law enforcement, faculty, students, law enforcement, staff, hospital staff--all contributed to some of the positive responses. He is emotional, especially about the hundreds of emails he has received. They are moving quickly to talk about memorials and counseling. They will focus now on healing and focus later on reopening. He reassures everyone, "We will get through this together."

9:40 Chair of Board of Trustees Cherilyn G. Murer speaks to the tragedy as both a mother and chair. She notes that they put responses in place that enabled the campus to be ready. The coordination and cooperation of the response team showed that it worked.

9:45 Campus Police Chief Donald Grady sends out his condolences to the families. He compliments the law enforcement on this campus, along with the other emergency responders. Event started at 3:06. By 3:06:29, there were 2 NIU police in the area. By 3:08, 8 additional police officers were on scene. They went in immediately. Within that time, the shooter was able to shoot the students and himself in that time. There was nothing the police could have done.

CNN cuts away to a trial. Fuck them. I tried to watch live streaming video from the NIU website, but I can't make it work. I am able to get online through the Chicago Tribune, who are streaming live.

10:00am: They are answering questions. Okay, the shooter was seen outside before he entered the building, but because he carried the shotgun in a guitar case and covered the ammunition under his coat, no one knew he was a threat. He kicked the door open and quickly opened fire. Investigators are talking to his family, including his father in Florida. They are providing the names of those killed. There are only five victims and the shooter dead; the count of six victims dead is a miscommunication from a hospital.

10:05 Press conference ends.

Clips from the press conference they show afterward on CNN: They have identified the gunman in the Northern Illinois University slayings as 27-year-old former sociology grad student Steven Kazmierczak. He was a good student, by all accounts. Just two years ago, Northern Illinois University honored Steve Kazmierczak with a dean's award for his academic work on prisons. He has been identified as most recently a social work grad student at UI-Urbana Champaign. He did research on self-injury of prisoners. Police say Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication recently and had "become erratic," though they did not name which medications he had taken.

Update: There were 4 firearms recovered from the scene. They say they found 48 bullet casings and 6 shotgun shells. All expended in less than 3 minutes, including reloading the shotgun. Geez.

I recall writing in this blog after the shooting at Virginia Tech. My feelings are much the same, though I now know more about the administration here at my school. As I watched the press conference, I thought about how our President and administrative staff would have to handle this kind of event...how devastating it would be for everyone I know. Our school (probably like most) has implemented an emergency plan, which I am sure they will be reviewing in light of this tragedy.

I am so sad. All I can do is send my prayers to the families, and hope for healing for all of those affiliated with NIU (and UIUC).

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