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Education and the heart kick when tragedy strikes


Dr. For Jose Trevino, the emergency call was no different than any other, until 20 minutes later he arrived at Ascension Mercy medical center in Aurora and saw all the police cars.

It didn’t take long for the trauma surgeon to realize that this wasn’t your typical workday. The patient lying in front of him, Aurora Police Sgt. Marco Gomez, who lost consciousness with a dangerous amount of blood, “was a brother… the first responder… was one of us.”

And he thought this was “Aurora, Illinois, where these things don’t happen.”

But died. During the mass shooting at the Henry Pratt warehouse in the city five years ago.

For some, this is a long time. After all, since then we’ve experienced a pandemic, social justice riots, an unstable presidential election, and even bloodier conflicts farther from home.

But for most of us it seems like such a short time ago; It is measured not by anniversaries or world headlines, but by the way this shooting has affected our lives.

That day, in that hospital, Dr. Trevino could see that his patient was in trouble. “My job was to get the finger into the dam and bring it back,” he recalls as the team reviewed the reenactment ABC.

The truth is, whether it’s the shooter or the hero lying in front of him, “everything comes into play…you’re doing what you’ve been trained to do.”

Fortunately, that’s what happened throughout this community that day.

With law enforcement. Fire, 911 and other first responders. With the media. With schools. With the city and its churches.

In addition to training, the heart also came into play. People from across the city and beyond quickly responded, embracing the “Strong Aurora” mantra, providing spiritual, emotional and financial support.

Five years later, it was important that we do more than take a short break to remember the victims, salute the heroes, and acknowledge the strength of community.

Yes, a lot has happened since then; including hundreds of mass shootings across the country, many of which were reflected in news summaries. And because those most affected have little or no voice, even the biggest headlines tend to become background noise in political debates that go nowhere.

You no doubt know that the day before Aurora commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Pratt mass shooting, Northern Illinois University commemorated the five students killed there in 2008 and Parkland, Florida, did the same for the 17 murder victims of Marjory Stoneman. Douglas High School is still reeling from a deadly shooting at a Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration six years ago.

I can’t help but wonder how Greg Zanis will be able to rise to the occasion.

From the 1999 Columbine shootings to the months before his death in 2020, the Aurora carpenter made white crosses and traveled more than 800,000 miles to deliver them to places across the country where hundreds of those tragedies occurred, including his hometown where he said family and friends were shot. her extremely hard.

Yes, he always knew exactly what to do when the call came. And his legacy lives on: The crosses he made for Pratt victims will remain on display as a powerful cross by the Aurora Historical Society on the anniversary of the mass shooting. a visual reminder of those lost that day.

This was a tragedy that will forever be part of the fabric of society.

“There was a time when Pratt was all I could think about. I lost sleep. I cried. I was worried about that,” said Aurora Police Lt. Bill Rowley, who became one of the prominent faces of the Aurora shooting, facing national media on a daily basis.

While that has always been “a mainstay” and “part of the DNA of this department,” he told me a few days ago, too much has happened in the world in the last five years. And as horrific as the Pratt shooting was, it became just “a dot on the map…a dot in the universe” as other tragedies unfolded.

“We know we’re through this. “We did our job, we learned our lessons, and that’s all the human experience requires,” said one long-serving Aurora police officer. “What matters now is that the families do the right thing.”

This includes acknowledging their loss and remembering the five Pratt employees killed that day (Russell Beyer, Clayton Parks, Josh Pinkard, Trevor Wehner and Vicente Juarez).

Although the vigils, announcements, and media coverage of the past few days may be like ripping off a Band-Aid, the hope is that these commemorations will somehow aid their path to healing. Like
We can’t act like we know how the victims’ families feel,” Aurora Fire Chief David McCabe said, noting the city’s memorial.

But we can feel for them.



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