Godfather of NIU gunman talks about Kazmierczak

February 19, 2008 6:53:12 PM PST
The godfather of Steven Kazmierczak is talking about the Northern Illinois University gunman's behavior in the days before the shooting rampage."I know that when he first called, he was reaching out for somebody, and he called me," said godfather Richard Grafer, Des Plaines. ""When he finally called me, I was so happy to hear from him."

Kazmierczak's godfather says the gunman reached out to him in the weeks before the campus shootings.

Kazmierczak hadn't talked to his godfather in years as the result of a family falling out. But out of the blue a month ago, Kazmierczak called Grafer on a Sunday. Grafer says both were excited about spending some time together.

"We can get back together, and we can do all the things we missed. We're gonna go fishing, play chess," said Grafer.

It was the first of five lengthy phone conversations, the last of which came shortly before Kazmierczak's murderous assault on an NIU geology class.

"If you shoot a guy, you're gonna pay the price," Grafer said he told his godson.

State police investigators now say that Kazmierczak tried to buy weapons from a total of six Illinois gun stores. That's how many separate background checks were underway on the shooter.

During the phone conversations, Grafer says he tried to talk his godson out of buying guns. And he tried to catch up on the years they were separated by a squabble with Kazmierczak parents.

"I asked him about school, if he was getting along with the other kids, and he said he was having a great time," said Grafer.

But Grafer says gun advice was one of the reasons Kazmierczak called him after so many years of being incommunicado.

"He said he had a guy who was selling him a 380. I told him 'buy yourself a good fishing rod," said Grafer.

The 27-year-old Elk Grove Village native didn't listen to his godfather. He bought the 380, a couple of 9mm pistols and a shotgun, and he used two of them Thursday in the killing rampage at NIU. When Kazmierczak stormed the Cole Hall classroom, it was just a couple days after he had spoken to his godfather for the last time.

"He called me Tuesday before Valentines Day, said he was going away, and he'll talk to me later after he finished his finals," said Grafer. "Said he'd talk to me later, and he said "I love you Uncle Dick."

Grafer told the I-Team that Kazmierczak claimed he'd broken up with his girlfriend just before Christmas, even though Jessica Baty, 28, has said in an interview that the two were still a couple and planning a future together.

Grafer said he had no clue that his godson was distraught or on the edge of violence, that the two of them were even planning to see each other Saturday, two days after that fateful day in DeKalb.

"He's not a monster. That's why I keep waiting for him to call," Grafer said, breaking down.

Grafer says that when he heard the gunman used a Glock 9mm pistol, he knew Kazmierczak was the triggerman. Still, he called his godson's cell phone at 4:24 p.m., an hour and a half after the shooting, hoping he was wrong.

Having heard nothing and with no official word that Kazmierczak was the shooter, Grafer called the cell phone again early the next morning. There was no answer and no return call. And as of Tuesday, there was still no explanation nor motive for his godson's behavior.

There will be no funeral service for Kazmierczak. The Grove Memorial Chapel in Elk Grove Village is handling the gunman's cremation, said Grafer.