Families, survivors remember NIU shooting 10-years later
DeKALB — Families are remembering their loved ones 10 years after a shooting at Northern Illinois University that killed five and injured 21.
Students Gayle Dubowski, 20; Catalina Garcia, 20; Daniel Parmenter, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; and Ryanne Mace, 19, were killed Feb. 14, 2008 when a gunman entered an ocean sciences class and began shooting, The Daily Herald reported.
University spokesman Joe King said since the deaths of the students, more than 1,800 people have donated more than $745,000 to The Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship fund has allowed the university to award $4,000 each to 50 students in the names of the slain students.
Dubowski’s parents, Joe and Laurel, said they’ve relived the sadness of losing their daughter after every mass shooting in the past decade. The couple said they found it difficult but eventually worked through their anger to forgive the gunman.
“By being angry and bitter, you’re not hurting anyone but yourself,” said Joe, 61.
Maria Christiansen, who was critically injured during the shooting, is now an NIU police officer.
“I didn’t know I had been shot until I started feeling the blood, tasting it. I thought I was going to die because it was so hard to breathe,” said Christiansen, recalling the shooting.
She was among the first students targeted by the shooter in NIU’s Cole Hall.
Christiansen, who had wanted to be a police officer since she was 13, said the shooting “made me who I am.”
This week, survivors, parents, students, first responders, school officials and others are planning to gather in honor of the victims.