Much better handled -- IMHO

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    Much better handled -- IMHO

    The Associated Press: A year later, no final report on NIU shooting

    A year later, no final report on NIU shooting
    By MICHAEL TARM – 7 hours ago

    DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — If the police chief of Northern Illinois University had his way, the name of the man who gunned down five students in a lecture hall one year ago Saturday would fade into oblivion.

    "Why give the guy the notoriety he sought?" says Chief Donald Grady, the lead investigator charged with issuing a final police report on the Feb. 14, 2008, attack. "That might only encourage someone else with mental issues to try and do the same thing one day."

    The report on Steven Kazmierczak's rampage, which ended with his suicide, still could be months or even years away, Grady said. He brushes aside critics who insist the findings are long overdue.

    "You want to know who the suspect is? You know that. He's dead," said Grady, his booming voice rising. "You want to know how many guns he had? You know that. You want to know how many victims there were? You know that. What else do you need to know?"

    Indeed, it took only hours for authorities to piece together the rampage that lasted mere minutes:

    Kazmierczak, a 27-year-old former NIU student, stepped from behind a screen on the lecture hall stage, carrying four guns. He fired dozens of shots into the geology class, killing five and wounding 19 others before turning a gun on himself.

    Killed were Gayle Dubowski, 20; Catalina Garcia, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; Ryanne Mace, 19; and Daniel Parmenter, 20.

    Some family members hope for clarity from a final report. "I want to know as much as I can about situations," said Joe Dubowski of Carol Stream, whose daughter, Gayle, was shot in the head.

    "What was she was doing in her last moments? ... Was she standing up? Was she lying down? Or was she sitting there, as some students were, in shock, not even moving?"

    The biggest question — why Kazmierczak did it — may be unanswerable.

    Officials and friends have said Kazmierczak struggled with mental health troubles, but no motive has been determined and no suicide note was ever found.

    Grady said he still has thousands of investigative papers to read, and even holds out hope that a hard drive apparently discarded from Kazmierczak's laptop before the attack might turn up. But with no additional suspects or indication of accomplices, he said, "this case just isn't as high a priority anymore."

    The lack of urgency appears in sharp contrast to the response to the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech University that left 33 people dead. Two voluminous reports were released within five months, one by a governor's panel and another by the school.

    After the Virginia Tech massacre, though, both police and the school were heavily criticized, with parents and others saying a slow reaction enabled gunman Seung-Hui Cho to claim more victims before killing himself. There was clamor for a quick, full accounting.

    No such clamor followed the NIU slayings. NIU instead won praise from a state panel and others for quickly alerting the student body of nearly 25,000. Campus officers burst into the classroom within minutes of the first 911 calls — only to find Kazmierczak dead, weapons strewn about him.

    Grady notes that even the Virginia State Police, which has led the Virginia Tech investigation, has not released all documents or a final report.

    VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the agency opened all evidence possible, but witness statements, crime scene photographs and tapes of 911 calls are not included.

    "I can tell you, you don't want to hear those tapes," Geller said of the 911 calls. "If you can tell me one good reason why the public needs to hear these students, some in their final moments and begging for their lives, I'd listen."

    NIU police also have refused to release 911 tapes.

    Jim Thomas, an NIU sociology professor who once taught Kazmierczak and maintained a friendship with him and his girlfriend, contends it's not up to Grady to decide whether a final report is relevant.

    He said he understands many survivors and their families aren't pressing Grady, in part because some credit his department's swift action with saving lives.

    "I know some of the families think Grady walks on water," Thomas said. "But we're talking about information that should be made public, including to help some people bring closure."

    Grady won't discuss investigative details, but said he has tried to help bring closure, including by accompanying survivors and relatives into the red-bricked Cole Hall where the carnage took place.

    Maria Ruiz-Santana, 21, said her return brought on flashbacks of Kazmierczak firing from the stage.

    "I wanted to go back because I felt that was the way for me to heal completely, emotionally," she said.

    Ruiz-Santana remembers lying in the lecture hall aisle after being shot, bleeding and gasping for air as she saw the gunman's feet walk past her — and she credits Grady with saving her life; he held her hand and talked to her to keep her from going into shock.

    "He keeps denying it, but I still believe he is my hero," Ruiz-Santana said.

    Mark DeBrauwere's daughter, Lauren, was wounded when a bullet lodged in her chest. Parmenter, one of those killed, was her boyfriend.

    But DeBrauwere said neither he nor his daughter need a final report.

    "As far as I'm concerned it was closed after day one," he said. "All the answers left when (Kazmierczak) killed himself."

    Associated Press Writer Caryn Rousseau contributed to this report.
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    On the one hand, I can understand families wanting to know everything possible about the final moments of their loved ones, but they really need to stop and ask if that information is going to help them make any more sense of the tragedy. I think everyone knows the answer to that question.

    The gunman's former (ex even though the breakup was accomplished by his suicide?) girlfriend has made statements to the press but refused any further interviews citing the same reasons as Grady: why give the guy what he wanted and promise similar notoriety to some mentally unbalanced copycat somewhere? Perhaps without the publicity it would be a private murder/suicide or better yet, simply a suicide.

    Ryan
    Those who will not govern their own behavior are slaves waiting for a master; one will surely find them.

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    I don't think there is anything more that anybody needs to know whether your kid was shot sitting standing or running away they are just as dead,and the guy who did it is dead.As far as closure,I don't really think anybody ever gets closure from a violent crime.Every family gathering etc. they are missed and remembered.As far as the criminals I agree with why keep bringing it up and keeping the tragedy in the news
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

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    "I’m not afraid of guns, even after what happened"

    More:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/us/15NIU.html?ref=us

    Illinois Shooting Victims Move On in Different Ways

    DeKALB, Ill. (AP) — When Maria Ruiz-Santana talks about the day a suicidal gunman shot her in the throat in her geology class at Northern Illinois University, she sounds as if she is describing a nightmare from long ago.

    “It feels like it happened to me years and years ago,” said Ms. Ruiz-Santana, 21, who was among the 25 people shot during the lecture, at Cole Hall.

    But it has been just one year. Last Feb. 14, the gunman, Steven P. Kazmierczak, fatally shot five students before killing himself.

    The university had a day of activities planned for Saturday to mark the anniversary, including a commemoration ceremony, candlelight vigil and memorial wreath laying.

    Mr. Kazmierczak’s victims and their families have found different ways to cope. Some, like Ms. Ruiz-Santana, found closure in a visit to the still-closed Cole Hall. The father of one victim, Joe Dubowski, has left his daughter’s bedroom as it was that day. Another victim, Harold Ng, who was struck in the head by shotgun pellets, has turned to his faith.

    “There’s an anxiousness,” Scott Peska, director of the Office of Support and Advocacy at the university, said of the nearly 25,000-member student body. “The whole campus, they’re remembering how they were impacted.”

    Ms. Ruiz-Santana, who had wanted a career in law enforcement, still wants to be a police officer and even had an internship with the campus police department last semester. She said that she wanted to help victims of mass shootings and that she was considering getting a gun license.

    “I’m not afraid of guns, even after what happened,” she said.

    After Ms. Ruiz-Santana was shot, she lay bleeding and gasping for air in a lecture hall aisle. She heard gunshot blasts and saw the gunman’s feet walk by.

    “Even when I was there just laying on the floor, it was just so unreal,” Ms. Ruiz-Santana said.

    After a few minutes, the shooting stopped. Later, the authorities arrived.

    Ms. Ruiz-Santana credits the campus police chief, Donald Grady, with saving her. He held her hand and talked to her to keep her from going into shock.

    “He keeps denying it, but I still believe he is my hero,” Ms. Ruiz-Santana said. “I don’t know if I would have been here if it wasn’t for him.”

    It also was Chief Grady who took Ms. Ruiz-Santana and her parents into Cole Hall just two months after the shootings. Visiting the site meant convincing herself that the shootings had actually happened, she said, that she had survived and had put it behind her.

    Chief Grady said he had taken 10 groups of people into Cole Hall in the last year. “I do ask if it’s something they’re certain they want to do,” he said. “It’s not the easiest thing to go in there.”

    Walking into Cole Hall brought Ms. Ruiz-Santana flashbacks of when Mr. Kazmierczak stepped onto the lecture hall stage and started firing. “I wanted to go back because I felt that was the way for me to heal completely, emotionally,” she said. “Right after I got out of the room I felt like it was over. The doors are closed. Let’s move on.”

    Chief Grady said that attitude was why Ms. Ruiz-Santana would be successful in whatever career she chose, including police work. “She’s refused to let this event define her,” he said. “She’s very grounded, and she’s very focused.”

    Ms. Ruiz-Santana also says she has let go of any resentment toward Mr. Kazmierczak. “I was mad and I was really upset and I just wanted to scream from the top of my lungs,” she said. “But there’s no reason for me to be angry with him if there’s nothing I can do about it.”

    But Mr. Dubowski said he was angry. His only daughter, Gayle Dubowski, 20, a singer and pianist, was killed in the shootings.

    Her family has been in counseling, and Mr. Dubowski said that talking through the grief had helped but that he was still looking for answers. Mr. Kazmierczak left no suicide note and took steps to hide his motive, the authorities said.

    “Part of the anger that I feel toward the shooter is that he denied the world any exploration of what he did or what he was going through,” Mr. Dubowski said. “He denied the world an opportunity for forgiveness.”

    Gayle Dubowski’s bedroom in the family’s home in Carol Stream remains just as she left it. “As time goes by, it will be time to give things away,” Mr. Dubowski said. “It’s kind of a touchy thing still.”

    The university presented the Dubowskis with their daughter’s degree at commencement ceremonies last spring. Hundreds stood to cheer as her name was read.

    Moments like that help bring closure, Mr. Dubowski said, but there are still tough days. “It just strikes me of the growing distance between the present and the last time I saw my daughter,” he said.

    Also killed that day were Catalina Garcia, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; Ryanne Mace, 19; and Daniel Parmenter, 20.

    Mr. Ng, 22, is a communication major who was shot in the back of his head. He said that he was trying to move past the attack but that attending any anniversary memorials might be too painful.

    Mr. Ng said his mind also spun when he thought about how he could have died that day. “I’ve always had those questions,” he said. “What if it was me? Why was I lucky?”

    Mr. Ng said that since the shootings he had followed through on some of his life passions, like becoming a worship leader at the Baptist Campus Ministry. The shootings, he said, gave him the motivation “to do things I wouldn’t normally do, get involved more.”

    Rene Gorbold, a Baptist minister on campus, said Mr. Ng had changed.

    “He’s still a fun, goofy person,” Ms. Gorbold said. “But there’s a much more serious side to him that I didn’t necessarily see before.”
    Hum! none devoting their lice to the Brady Bunch -- like at VT.

    Wonder if the "media" had anything to do with that.
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    I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.

    I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.

    Veni, Vidi, Velcro

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