Community reflects on Sparks Middle, hears from other survivors

Listen to the story

Community reflects on Sparks Middle, hears from other survivors


A memorial honoring Michael Landsberry, the teacher shot at the Sparks Middle School shooting.

The Reno/Sparks community came together Wednesday night to reflect upon the recent shooting at Sparks Middle School and to hear from those who have experienced similar tragedies.

Victims of mass shootings led the panel and shared how they've tried to heal and educate the public.

Colin Goddard was one of the students wounded at Virginia Tech about seven years ago. He says the impact of such a shooting is felt long after the immediate trauma is over. Part of healing the process, he says, is trying to regain a sense of security in the settings where a shooting took place.

"Talking about what it's like to go back to a class afterwards and deal with that loud noise, or the person coming in late, or watching violence on tv, or having every one in the world seemingly reach out to you. It's all these weird things you try to deal with. There are only a few other people who've been through something similar."

State Senator Debbie Smith organized the forum with the school district. She says they've been well equipped with counseling resources, but she and other policymakers will draw lessons from those involved in past shootings.

"We want to make sure our facilities are prepared and secure. We want to make sure we have enough counselors on staff. I think there are many things we can learn and be proactive at and do an even better job."

Another victim at the meeting was Patricia Maisch who helped wrestle the magazine away from the shooter targeting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

"I'm here to be of service, to help people heal, if our stories will do help them find a way to incorporate the event into their lives. You never move on: my event is either at my back, at my side, or in my face depending on any number of things."

The district is currently rewriting how it responds to emergencies based on what happened at Sparks Middle School.

Aaron Kenneston is the Washoe County Emergency Manager.

"What do we still need to improve on? Where are the capability gaps? I think it's good not only from an individual perspective, but also for the agencies involved, so we can be more efficient and effective.

The district says it will continue offering support to those impacted by the shooting and to gauge how to help students in the years to come.