Tragedy at NIU

So far, six victims have died, plus the perp, who by killing himself, saved us the trouble and expense of convicting and sentencing and executing him.

Northern Illinois University is my alma mater. I spent over five years there — yes, I changed majors a few times, why do you ask? — and even lived there full time for the last 3 years of that time. I liked my time there; it had started to feel like home. It has been 25 years since I was a student there, but I’ve been back every few years since. It still feels like a former home.

Now it’s known as one of those places where a senseless mass murder took place. It has been changed forever.

My sincere condolences to all the victims and their families.

I’ll compile news links and editorials here (updated 02-18-08):

Chicago Tribune –
NIU shooting leaves 7 dead; 4 identified
Making sense of tragedy is a puzzle we cannot solve (excellent column by John Kass, 02-17-08)

Chicago Sun-Times –
7 dead in NIU shooting

Daily Herald –
Six people, gunman killed in shooting at NIU lecture hall
NIU’s community never stronger (excellent column by Barry Rozner, 02-17-08)

Northern Star –
Students react to aftermath of shooting
Editorial: NIU has lost members of its family

Tribune – NIU shooting victims, their stories
Tribune – Northern Illinois University gunman Steven Kazmierczak
Sun-Times 2

Northern Illinois University has established a memoral page and a scholarship fund.


The victims: Daniel Parmenter, Catalina Garcia, Ryanne Mace, Julianna Gehant, and Gayle Dubowski. Sixteen others injured.

Further thoughts …

  • The emerging portrait of the killer, Steven Kazmierczak, is a complicated one. Here’s an article from today’s Tribune. On the one hand, everybody who knew him has nothing but good things to say about him. Smart, personable, caring. On the other hand, his psychiatric history is troubling, especially over the last few months. Very odd. Not many conclusions to be drawn yet, but one thing that strikes me is that even smart, personable, caring people can be mentally troubled.
  • I’ve been pretty impressed with the reaction of the University, the police and all emergency personnel, and the student newspaper. A chaotic situation like that presents many opportunities to make bad choices, but everybody seems to have done the right thing at the right time. Very commendable.
  • NIU is usually one of those “under the radar” schools, but with a big alumni presence in the Chicago area in particular. There is a fair amount of pride out there; we’re seeing that now. I am reminded now that I don’t have any NIU-wear, and I need to fix that.
  • I have to wonder about the potential side-effects of this “mystery medication” Kazmierczak had stopped taking.  We’ve all heard about how anti-depressants can cause some people to become suicidal or violent.  He was both. We need a public airing of this discussion.

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