School Shooting Brings Back Vivid Memories For One Oregon Educator

Dec 17, 2012

The tragedy in Connecticut has brought back memories of May 21st 1998, the day of Oregon’s deadliest school shooting. KLCC’s Angela Kellner reports.

Substitute teacher Jim Crist was checking into Thurston High’s office when chaos erupted in the cafeteria. 15-year-old Kip Kinkel had opened fire before several students tackled him. Crist rushed to the scene just as Kinkel was reaching for another gun.

Crist: “The gun then slides out on the floor and I can just remember a sense of urgency that if anyone is going to get a hold of that, it’s going to be me, and reaching down and grabbing a hold of the gun.”

Two students died, two dozen others were injured. Kinkel had fatally shot his parents at home the night before and is spending life in prison. Crist went on to become assistant principal at Thurston High and is now the principal at a Springfield elementary school. Lessons from the Thurston shooting have made him ultra-vigilant about school safety.

Crist: “If somebody’s questionable about whether or not they’re supposed to be here, to not sit back and just wait to see if something happens, but to approach them in a way that lets them know that they’re being watched and they are welcome as long as they do have business being here.”

Crist says the community of Newtown, Connecticut has difficult times ahead as it tries to cope with the devastating loss of so many students and staff.

Copyright 2012 KLCC.