NIU attack survivors embrace victims of Aurora plant shooting

On Thursday at Northern Illinois University, a group of mass shooting survivors from the campus in 2008 will gather to mourn the region's most recent victims of a crazed, armed attacker.

Last Friday two members of the NIU community were among five rampage victims shot and killed at an Aurora valve factory. Six police officers were also wounded in the attack by a company employee who was being terminated from his job that day.

They are the latest members of a growing fraternity of America's mass casualty corps.

Northern Illinois University's mortal alliance with Aurora began on Valentine's Day 2008. That is the day a gunman burst into an N-I-U lecture hall and opened fire, killing five students and wounding twenty. During the last eleven years, survivors of the Northern attack have struggled through their own recurring agony, with each mass shooting.

The first memorial for one of the five victims of last week's Aurora workplace shooting took place Wednesday night.

Friends and family gathered in Sheridan, Illinois for Trevor Wehner, 21, an NIU student who was on his first day as a human resources intern at the Henry Pratt Company when Gary Martin opened fire.

Wehner was also preparing to graduate from Northern Illinois University in May.

The latest assault on Pratt Company's sprawling factory site in Aurora brought back haunting memories for NIU survivor Patrick Korellis. On the day Korellis' classroom came under siege, he made it out alive-but wounded.

"He had shot a shotgun and that's when I felt it pierce me in the back of the head and I started bleeding" Korellis told the ABC7 I-Team. When a student near him started yelling "he's reloading a lot of us started going toward the door crawling, running towards the door." Korellis recalls.

X-rays reveal physical scars from that terrifying day - embedded in Korellis' head and arm are shotgun pellets deemed too dangerous to remove.

The 27 year old shooter-a former NIU grad student, had a legal shotgun and two handguns. That he used to murder five, wound 20 and then kill himself.

As with many survivors of violence, Patrick Korellis has become a student of his assailant. "He was on Prozac and all his medications that he went off of them. He was checked into a mental health facility two years before. He just was mentally unstable" Korellis said. "There had to be something. He ordered all these ammunition and guns online and from the gun store down in Champaign/Urbana and brought them up to DeKalb. It's just--there had to be something."

In the end, the NIU shooter wasn't stopped before he took over a lecture hall and started shooting. Neither was the shooter in Aurora last week. Or all of the other mass attackers-from Sandy Hook to Las Vegas-that have caused such heartache in between.
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