Local Va. Tech survivor reacts to NIU shooting

February 14, 2008 7:50:14 PM PST
The attack at Northern Illinois University is the deadliest campus shooting since 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech last year.A student who survived the Virginia Tech massacre is from Chicago. For Garret Evans the shooting evoked some haunting memories.

He said it's hard to believe it has happened so soon and close to his home in Chicago. For those killed there will be much sorrow, but he says the survivors suffer scars that may never heal.

"You don't know what to think. It takes a while to put it together when you see people die right before your face," said Evans.

Evans was shot in the leg during the massacre at Virginia Tech last April.

Physically, he is healed, but emotionally, he said, the wounds are still fresh.

Evans says as difficult as it is for the families of those killed, the survivors are struggling, too.

"My heart goes out to those. God bless the ones who had to watch. You saw people get shot," he said.

Thursday night on the popular Web site Facebook, students from Virginia Tech shared words of sympathy, support and prayer to NIU students who posted images that captured the chaos and shock.

Virginia Tech president Charles Steger says, "This horrific news will certainly bring to mind the hurt, the pain and the trauma we experienced less than a year ago. I have sent my condolences and offer of assistance to the president of NIU."

Evans says coping with the aftermath will take digging deep into their faith.

"The challenge is to forgive the gunman. It seems hard to do that, but you have to forgive so that you can heal," he said.

Evans wanted to make sure the survivors and the victims' families are not alone in their tragedy. He is encouraging them to talk to others. He also praised Northern for the way they informed students because at Virginia Tech, it was two hours after the first shooting before students learned there was a shooting.