U.S. school shootings reopen wounds in Cold Spring


It's been over a decade since the shooting at Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minnesota, but for some, those memories still sting every time another school shooting makes headlines.

On Tuesday, it was a shooting at Reynolds High School near Portland, Oregon, that left one student and the lone gunman dead.

Last Thursday, one student was killed and three were injured in a shooting at Seattle Pacific University in Washington state.

"Every one that you read about, every one that you hear about, every story that is related to ours in Rocori is tremendously sad," Scott Staska, former superintendent of Rocori schools, told FOX 9.

Ninth-grader John McLaughlin shot and killed 14-year-old Seth Bartell and 17-year-old Aaron Rollins before lunch on Sept. 24, 2003, at Rocori High School. McLaughlin was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting.

"We're 10 years away from the incident. I can't say we're fully recovered," Staska told FOX 9. "We're several steps away from it, but it takes a long time to recover from it."

New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker was 16 years old when shots rang out at his high school in Cold Spring. He told the New York Post back in January that "It’s taken years to get over [the shooting], and even now I still have times where I either remember something or am in a certain situation and become a little scared because of that."

Tuesday's shooting in Oregon was the 74th time shots had been fired on school grounds or in a school building since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for policies to limit gun violence.

Staska admits that people have become desensitized to these types of headlines, telling FOX 9 that, "It's easy to see it as just another news story. When you stop to think about it and think about what those people are going though, every [shooting] is a serious tragedy."

Of those 74 shootings in the last year and a half, none were in Minnesota.

"A lot of people think it can't happen here," Staska told FOX 9. "We're living proof that it can happen anywhere, but that's a devastating piece to feel when you lose that sense of innocence."

Since the shooting in Cold Spring, there was just one other school shooting in Minnesota. On March 21, 2005, Jeffrey Weise, a 16-year-old student, killed his grandparents and then opened fire on Red Lake Senior High School, killing five students, one teacher and a security guard before killing himself, investigators said.

It was called the worst school shooting since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

A tragedy was prevented in Waseca just a few weeks ago when an alert citizen noticed a person acting suspiciously near a storage unit. Police say John David LaDue, 17, plotted to kill his family and set off bombs and "kill as many students as he could" at Waseca Junior and Senior High School.

In the aftermath of the Cold Spring shooting, Decker and his classmates told the New York Post that knowing they weren't going through it alone made a difference – their tight-knit community leaned on each other for support.

Rocori and the other schools that have been affected by these acts are rebuilding, but it takes years, Staska said.

"It's slow, it's difficult, but it can be done," Staska told FOX 9. "Each community will overcome it."

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