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Former NIU President Says Memories Of The 2008 Campus Shooting 'Are Very Fresh'

Susan Stephens
NIU memorial wall, 2014

It was ten years ago this Wednesday that five students were shot and killed in a Northern Illinois University classroom. Retired NIU President John Peters returned to the school this weekend to take part in a number of observances.

Peters was the public face of NIU in the difficult days after the shooting. Behind the scenes, he took on the role of comforter-in-chief for the families of the five who were murdered. He says this weekend gave him the opportunity to reconnect with the families, the students who were injured, and the community.

"It doesn't seem like ten years because it's like looking at photographs or visions that I have that are very fresh of that horrible day, and the days after that," Peters said.

Peters says he remains in awe of the families and how they have coped with the tragedy -- through religion, writing, and art. But it breaks his heart that, regardless of the positives, they are never far from the fact that they lost their child or were seriously wounded, physically or emotionally.

Peters says after a decade of searching, he isn’t sure there was anything NIU could have done to prevent the 2008 shooting. He just hopes that Americans continue to be appalled by mass shootings instead of accepting them as part of everyday life.

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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