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Thurston Reacts to Newtown Shooting

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Nearly 15 years ago our community was rocked by its own deadly school shooting.

Many from the Thurston and Springfield community told KEZI 9 News the Connecticut shooting brings back the horror of that day.

Friday’s tragedy is hitting very close to home for those connected with the Thurston school shooting in 1998.

KEZI 9 News spoke with a mother by phone, whose daughter was wounded in that shooting. She didn’t want to talk on camera but says she met her husband for lunch and they basically held hands in silence. That sums up how most people are feeling.

“Our hearts certainly go out to the Newton, Connecticut community. That hits home for many of us here in Springfield when a tragedy like this occurs,” said Devon Ashbridge, Springfield Schools spokeswoman.

It’s hard for most people to hold back tears Friday. And the Springfield School District knows this scene all to well. In 1998, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel killed his parents then walked into Thurston High School armed with a rifle, killing two students and injuring 25 others.

“I think it does hit home for the Springfield community, and I think it’s important to know for our students and our staff that we make sure any time a tragedy like this occurs that counselors are available to any school who feels they need them for their staff or students,” Ashbridge said.

The Springfield district had its own scare just on Tuesday, when someone reported seeing a student carrying guns around the school. The suspect was a local student supposedly using the guns as props for a project.

“That was a great example of a caring community member who wanted to make sure that our schools and our students were okay,” Ashbridge said.

The district says after the Thurston shooting, security improved and in 2006 a bond measure helped it implement some much needed improvements.

“We’ve been able to upgrade much of the security at all of our schools and we have been able to do things like install security fencing, cameras and really work to make our campuses safe and secure places for our students,” Ashbridge said.

Diana Alldrige whose daughter Jennifer was wounded in Thurston told us over the phone she knows the pain these parents are going through, but she told us it’s even more difficult when it’s children–a sentiment it seems echoed all across the country.

Springfield Police Chief Jerry Smith, one of the first to respond to Thurston, says he still thinks about Thurston a lot and he says from his experience it’s going to be very difficult for the first responders like himself to cope with what they saw Friday.

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