Experiencing the trauma of one school shooting is one too many. Living through two is utterly incomprehensible.
Jackie Matthews was in the sixth grade in Newtown, Connecticut, when a 20-year-old assailant shot and killed 26 students and faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. As the school district went into lockdown during the chaos, Matthews crouched in place with her classmates for so long that she still experiences back problems from it.
Now, as a senior at Michigan State University, Matthews has survived her second mass shooting at school. On the night of February 13, a 43-year-old gunman shot eight students on the MSU campus, killing three of them, before turning the gun on himself. Matthews posted a video to TikTok while sheltering in place in the middle of the night across the street from where some of the shootings took place.
“I am 21 years old and this is the second mass shooting I have now lived through,” she shared. “Ten years and two months ago I survived the Sandy Hook shooting…I was hunched in the corner with my classmates for so long that I got a PTSD fracture in my L4 and L5 in my right lower back. I now have a full-blown PTSD fracture that flares up any time I’m in a stressful situation.”
“The fact this is now the second shooting I have lived through is incomprehensible,” she continued. “We can no longer just provide love and prayers. It needs to be legislation, it needs to be action. It’s not OK. We can no longer allow this to happen.”
Enough is Enough. #spartanstrong #sandyhookstrong I hope you stand with me in putting an end to this horrific epidemic of gun violence.
Matthews wasn’t the only MSU student who experienced their second school shooting on February 13. At least two students who had survived the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan in 2021 were also on campus that night.
Emma Riddle wrote on Twitter, “14 months ago I had to evacuate from Oxford High Schol [sic] when a fifteen year old opened fire and killed four of my classmates and injured seven more. Tonight, I am sitting under my desk at Michigan State Univeristy [sic], once again texting everyone ‘I love you.'”
“When will this end?” she asked.
Riddle’s father shared her tweet, writing, “This is my daughter Emma. Her safety and sense of peace has been ripped away twice in 14 months because America continues to choose guns over kids.”
u201cThis is my daughter Emma. Her safety and sense of peace has been ripped away twice in 14 months because America continues to choose guns over kids. Last year in #Oxford and today at #MSUu201d
— Matt Riddle (@Matt Riddle)
Another Oxford High School survivor was also on campus for the MSU shooting. Andrea Ferguson shared that her Oxford graduate daughter had just started attending MSU this semester.
“I never expected in my lifetime to have to experience two school shootings,” Ferguson told Local News 4 in Detroit as she described hearing from her daughter about the active shooter.
“She had just ended class and hopped on the bus and went across campus and called me, and while we were on the phone, all of the sudden she started getting text messages. It was like reliving Oxford all over again.”
The fact that multiple young people are experiencing multiple school shootings is a sobering reminder that the people who are killed or physically wounded are not the only victims of America’s unique gun violence problem. Countless kids have been traumatized by mass shootings, either witnessing them firsthand or being close enough to them that their sense of safety has been forever affected.
We simply can’t continue to wish and pray our mass shooting problem away away. Hopefully, it won’t take another generation of survivors for us to gather the political will to finally take meaningful action.