With the frequency of mass shootings in the United States in recent years, there is a growing group of experts who have lived through mass shootings and understand the effects they have on communities.
One of those experts is retired Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis, who held the office when the mass shooting happened on April 20, 1999. In that shooting, 13 people were killed and 26 were wounded.
DeAngelis says nothing can prepare you for a shooting such as the one in Sutherland Springs on Sunday, where 26 people were killed.
“If someone had told me that what happened at Columbine was going to happen prior to April 20, 1999, I would have said no," he said. And I am sure that exactly what the people are feeling today in Sutherland Springs, that it can’t happen here.”
He has also had some understanding of the long-term effects of massing shootings. It’s been 18 years since the Columbine shootings.
“I get this question all the time, when does it get back to normal?" he said. "And my answer is it will never get back to normal. What happened yesterday will have to redefine what normal is. It’s not a sprint but a marathon.”
He says people also ask him often what they can do to help victims of mass shootings. To that, he says we should give them time to go through the stages of grief and wait to see specifically what they need.
“They are still in shock and disbelief, and there is going to be some anger and some questions that are not answered," he said. "They may not even know today what they need from people like myself or people from Virginia Tech, but we are always going to be there because this is not going to go away for them.”