On the last day I saw you, you told me you liked my glasses. We talked about the classes you were taking next year, and I made fun of you for taking debate. At the end of the period, we said goodbye. I didn’t realize it was goodbye forever. I miss you. I love you.
I lost one of my best friends, Dominic Blackwell, to a school shooting. I was in the same area as the gunman and saw him shoot, fleeing as quickly as I could. Later that day, after hours of concern and chaos, I found out that he passed away.
Though that day has many details I can elaborate on, I want to celebrate the life Dominic lived. He was the kindest soul there could be. He lit up every room he walked into and was bound to make you smile. His mission in life was to bring happiness everywhere he went, and he succeeded. If he noticed a friend was down, he would set aside his own priorities to cheer them up. Not only was he kind, but he was the funniest person I’ve ever known. We have so many inside jokes that I often smile at, when I think back on them. The moments we spent in and outside of class were always filled with laughter. Always. His humor was like a super power; he would always leave you smiling. Dominic Blackwell was the kindest, funniest soul this world has ever been graced with. Fly high, Dominic.
When I was a junior in high school, I went to school on Valentine’s Day morning fretting about whether I should wear pink or red and if I would receive a carnation from one of my friends. By that afternoon, my entire outlook had changed. A single gunman entered my school and began shooting. My sister hid behind a computer cart, and I crouched between chairs as the gunshots became clear. We sat in silence on the phone with each parent because we were instructed to stay silent, but the family group chat was flooded with “I love yous” because we did not know if it would be our last chance. My sister and I made it out, but 17 of my classmates and teachers were not as lucky. I was just 16 years old, having to mourn the loss of the people I saw everyday.
We should not be scared to go to school, practice our faith or go for a walk. I am so honored to share my story among this group of inspiring people. The support for gun violence prevention is palpable, and we can do so much together. Continue the fight.
On October 9, 2015, four boys were shot on the campus of Northern Arizona University. Our son Colin was one of the victims.
He had a beautiful soul, a loud, hearty laugh, and the funniest grin ever. He could fill a room with his presence and had a smile that was so infectious; a true joy lived within him. He worked hard and had a kind heart. We only came to know just how many people were really touched by Colin’s life through his tragic death.
My son’s last words were, “Why did you bring a gun here?” At that point, the shooter lifted the gun and shot him twice. Then he shot his friends in midair, as one of them jumped to shield Colin. The third victim was shot twice—once in the neck and once in the hip. The fourth was shot in the back. The shooter’s intention was to kill them all.
Colin died that night. His friends survived, but they were left with deep scars in their hearts, minds and bodies.
All these boys were doing well in school. They held jobs and were so loved by their community. None of them should have experienced this tragedy.
My father, Chris Hixon, was killed while trying to confront the shooter during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. He was a Navy veteran and the first person to respond to the sound of gunfire. He simply wanted to help the students he mentored and loved.
His murder forever impacted my family and gave us a new focus on ensuring our experience doesn’t happen to anyone else. I will continue to honor his legacy while also ensuring gun violence and suicide are no longer a pandemic in this country. As a Marine Corps veteran, I am honored to be able to aid in this goal by serving on Everytown’s Veterans Advisory Council.
My story began early the morning of Friday, October 9, 2015. I received at call at 7:00 a.m. that my nephew Colin had been shot and killed by a fellow student on the Northern Arizona University campus. I immediately fell to my knees, my heart shattered beyond repair. Our lives were forever changed at that moment.
Colin was a son, brother, cousin, nephew, grandson and friend. He was full of light, laughter, joy and kindness. He was loving and caring. His smile was contagious and would light up any room he entered.
It is extremely hard to put into words the pain, anger and loss I feel. To this day, I ask myself: Why? I know I will never get that answer. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him. We carry him with us in our everyday lives.
Colin Brough will forever be loved, forever in our hearts and forever missed.
I remember clearly the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting: a 20 year old gunned down 20 children and 7 teachers. My initial thought was that I have no idea what I would do in that situation…. That couldn’t possibly happen to me.
Just a year later, on December 13, 2013, a student came into my school with a shotgun, seeking revenge on one of the most loved teachers. The campus guards did nothing to stop it. That led to the shooting of a fellow student, who passed away a week later.
The shooter legally bought a pump-action shotgun and large amounts of ammunition at local stores. Colorado law states that an 18 year old can buy a shotgun but not a handgun.
I will not be another statistic, and neither should any of you. Not one more. Enough is enough.
On Valentine’s Day 2008 (10 years before Parkland) at 3:06 p.m., a gunman came into the Cole Hall lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and started shooting. The shooting lasted less than a minute, but in that time he killed five people and injured 22 others. He killed himself before the cops could get him. Had it been 10 minutes earlier, I would’ve been right outside that building cutting through to go to work.
I can remember the frantic voicemail my roommate left me, then calling her back and immediately calling my mom to tell her I was fine. I can remember the chaos of not being able to use my phone because lines were jammed for five hours afterwards, while the rumors about more gunmen ran rampant. I can remember the emptiness and stillness of campus the day after, as if God froze it all in bitter winds and ice. I can remember the shock and pain of realizing a classmate was killed, the anger at what happened, the feeling of being violated, the need to fight back but not knowing against what, and the feeling that the depression will never go away… It’s with me always. #ForwardTogetherForward
When I was a sophomore, there was a shooting at my high school. Two people died, and 13 were injured. It was almost 20 years ago, and it still haunts me, especially now that I’m a mother. I get flashbacks, I have anxiety and I fear for my kids’ safety because I know how real gun violence is. It can happen anywhere, anytime, here in the United States. I’m almost expecting it to happen again.
I jump at loud noises. Being a survivor also caused me immense feelings of guilt, and I’ve struggled with depression since. My faith used to comfort me through these feelings, and it was a great distraction for many years. Now I feel that it only repressed these feelings and told me that the shooting happened because of an absence of God’s influence at my school. I now understand that my feelings are valid and that there is more correlation with gun violence and gun availability than with the lack of prayer in schools.
I heard the Code Red; I hid under a table with my students in the principal’s conference room. I texted my husband to get our son, and “I Love You,” which was code for goodbye. I survived, but too many did not. Now I fight for changes; now I attend rallies. I meet with politicians, I email, call, post and tweet. I cry. I pray. I pray that we can fix it. I keep going. Don’t forget MSD. Don’t forget Parkland. Keep going.