One week ago, Steven Kazmierczak walked into an auditorium in the middle of class at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., just 137 miles or two hours and 18 minutes northeast of Knox College, and shot the professor before shooting into the body of students, killing five of them before shooting himself. After the shooting stopped, they found leftover ammunition on his body.
In the days following, the national media swarmed to the campus to get the newest information on the identity of the shooter and fastest update on the death count.
In the meantime, the students remaining were figuring out how to begin mourning and wrap their heads around an incomprehensible disaster.
But when CNN arrived on the scene, they found the staff of the Northern Star already working to publish stories about the event in the midst of dealing with the emotional shock and physical chaos which was going on in their school.
Events like those that happened at NIU, at Virginia Tech, at Columbine High School, and at countless other schools throughout history seem like a constant reminder of how vulnerable students are when gunmen come into their schools and how such things could happen anywhere. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about the shooting at NIU is the closeness in proximity of the university to Knox.
One of the victims at NIU was a member of the newspaper staff there. He was part of their group and the school dynamic. To us, he is just a name, a photo, and a few lines profiling his better qualities, but to those who worked with him, he was a person, a friend.
The TKS staff would be incredibly devastated if we lost a member of our team, and having to write about it as soon as it happened, as the Northern Star staff did, would take a lot of courage. Our hats are off to the NIU students, staff and media for staying positive and united in the face of tragedy.