Northern Illinois University shooting of 2008

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3 years ago

From my previous article, the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929 happened in a garage as the hideout of the North Side Gang where 7 men were killed in cold blood of who's the dominating gang during the Prohibition in the United States. 79 years later (2008) on a Thursday afternoon, an armed man open fires to the crowd of students of the Northern Illinois University.

The perpetrator?

Steve Kazmierczak

Steven Kazmierczak, 27 years old. A former student of NIU where he received the Dean's award last 2006 as he finished in Sociology, and in 2007 he took courses in Arabic & Politics of the Middle East. He was described as a fairly normal and unstressed person. The students, faculty, and staff know him very well because of his good academic record, and there's no indication of any trouble. Before entering NIU, a graduate of Elk Grove High School in 1998, which he was treated temporarily for mental illness for being "unruly" at home. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager. He joined the United States Army in September 2001 and was formally discharged before completing basic training in February 2002 for lying on his application.

What happened?

February 14, 2008. 3:05 p.m. (Central Standard Time) Steven kicks the door at the southwest corner of Cole hall near the stage where an oceanography class was in session with a total of 120 students inside. He is equipped with a Remington Sportsman 48 shotgun, and 3 handguns consisting of a Glock 19, SIG Sauer P232, and a Hi-Point CF380. Then, he open fires at the students.

He fires his gun at the instructor, and the instructor tried to run out at the southeast corner but the door was locked. Then tried to run his way to the main exit at the east end of the classroom, as for the students were trying to leave. Some of them cannot immediately escape as they hid under or in between the seats. After firing 3 rounds, Steven reloads his gun while the students trapped inside the auditorium began to escape, others remained to hide under their seats. After shooting all six shotgun rounds, Steven switched to his Glock 19 as he open fires on the room's remaining occupants firing a total of 50 rounds, as he walks up and down on the west aisle and directly in front of or on the stage, firing at people as he went. He shot himself before police reached the scene, as they recovered un-expended rounds of ammunition including 2 fully loaded magazines from his Hi-Point CF380.

Officers rushed on the scene on February 14, 2008

At 3:06 p.m., a 911 call was reported as officers (both campus police and nearby police units) rushed to the scene. They saw the students running east from the Martin Luther King Commons area. As they set up the perimeter to secure the area, 6 officers are prepared to enter the auditorium. One was instructed to remain in the hallway ensuring no one enters the auditorium and that the shooter doesn't come out. 4 others entered the south auditorium and discovers Steven's dead body on the stage surrounded by guns with a pool of blood coming from his head. Other officers assisted the injured.

The Victims?

From left to right: Catalina Garcia, Ryanne Mace, Juliana Gehant, Gayle Dubowski, and Daniel Parmenter

23 people were shot, 17 of them were injured and 6 of them died (including Steven) during the shootout:

  • Catalina Garcia - born to Mexican immigrants, dreamed of becoming a school teacher. A graduate of Morton East High School in 2006 at Cicero, Illinois.

  • Ryanne Mace - an ace student and was granted a scholarship after graduating at Dundee-Crown High School in 2006.

  • Juliana Gehant - after graduating high school, she left Mendota, a small town in DeKalb, Georgia, and joined the United States Army as part of the Army Corps of Engineers. For her service of 12 years, she was a military carpenter while on tour at Bosnia & Laos. When the Iraq War escalated, her family fears for her safety, so they urged her to come back and return to college. She also dreamed of becoming a school teacher.

  • Gayle Dubowski - an art lover, talented soprano, and musical actress while she is in Glenbard North High School. A sweet and genuine person as told by her friends.

  • Daniel Parmenter - A former rugby football player during his days in York High School at Elmhurst, Illinois, and a devoted Christian. Around noon before the incident, he called his mother sending his love on Valentine's Day.

The Aftermath?

There were possible motives why Steven barged in and open fires helpless students inside Cole Hall. Jessica Baty (Steven's girlfriend) stated that he is taking 3 different medications: Xanax for anti-anxiety, Ambien as a sleeping aid, and Prozac for antidepressants, all of which were prescribed to him by a psychiatrist. Steven stopped taking Prozac 3 weeks before the incident. During their 2-year-courtship, she has never seen him displaying any violent behavior. After the shooting, authorities intercept series of packages that were sent to Jessica, including a gun holster, ammunition, a book about serial killers for her class, The Antichrist by Friedrich Nietzche, and his final note written for her.

Another possible motive was he was a victim of bullying during his adolescent years, and shown his interest in previous school shootings, including the shooting incidents in Columbine High School & Virginia Tech.

On February 15, 2008, candles were lit to commemorate the victims, and a week later on February 21, 2008, 5 minutes of silence were observed between 3:05 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. Central Standard Time. Until it became a yearly commemoration every February 14 as they gather in front of the hall and a 5 minute of silence where the bell tolls in memoriam to the victims. It was a celebration not just for couples, but for the other people we hold most dear to us, but it leads to a tragic incident for the students of Northern Illinois University.


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