Wounds still raw 25 years after Simon's Rock shooting rampage
GREAT BARRINGTON — The reverberations will never stop. Nor will the pain, the questions and the healing for those who survived, or witnessed it, or heard the gunshots on that cold, dry night 25 years ago.
The healing will continue at Bard College at Simon's Rock, which will hold a Day of Remembrance on Thursday (Dec. 14) for the college community that endured a shattering tragedy Dec. 14, 1992, when student Wayne Lo killed two people and wounded four others with a semiautomatic assault rifle.
Student Galen Gibson, 18, a budding poet and theater tech wiz from Gloucester, was killed. So was Nacunan Saez, 37, a beloved Argentinian language professor.
Teresa Beavers, a school security guard, was critically wounded during Lo's rampage at the early college. And students Thomas McElderry, Joshua Faber and Matthew David also were shot and wounded with the gun Lo purchased in Pittsfield, and ammunition delivered by UPS.
Years after the incident, which continues to stoke anxiety in former students and survivors, some old wounds were reopened last week by a five-minute NPR "StoryCorps" segment recorded in the state prison at Norfolk where Lo is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
After corresponding for years, Galen's father, Gregory Gibson, and Lo met for the first time to discuss what Gibson called a jointly agreed-upon and long-standing mission to "make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."
But it didn't go quite as planned, Gibson told The Eagle, and he knew what was aired might be upsetting for survivors and former students.
In the interview, Lo broke down as he spoke of Galen, and, asked what drove him to violence, he said he believed had been "on some sort of a mission from God ... but I know that I wasn't when I look back now."
He also talked about how easy it was to buy the gun.
Gibson said he was hoping some of the interview could be used in a future public service announcement for common-sense gun control laws. But while he said the conversation did generate some good material to that end, state Department of Corrections officials would not allow the pair to work from scripts Gibson had prepared.
And Lo told The Eagle most of the hourlong recording was edited out, so while it created a segment about reconciliation between Gibson and him, Lo said most of the parts in which he expressed remorse for his victims were cut.
Gibson suggested prison officials may be concerned about political anti-gun messages coming back to haunt them.
Spokeswoman Cara Savelli said the department has no objection to "discussing possibilities" with Gibson, but that details must be firm enough to nail down a legal contract, which was already in place for something other than what was in Gibson's scripts.
Gibson said his goal in conducting the interview at the prison wasn't about reconciliation after 25 years.
"It's not because I want to forgive or I want answers," he said. "It's because [Lo] and I have a very specific thing we want to accomplish."
And Gibson said he "understands and respects" how hearing what was aired might have been like "ripping the scabs off all over again" for survivors.
Gibson said this is his path, and it involves the help of Lo. But he said he knows for others touched by that night's violence, the road is different, and just "hearing that killer's voice, hearing him have a voice ... will hurt."
Lo declined to comment further about the attack now because he said he didn't want divert attention away from the victims.
Two survivors told The Eagle they contacted "StoryCorps" asking the producers to reconsider giving Lo a voice.
One was Thomas McElderry, whose femur was broken by one of Lo's armor-piercing bullets. The other was Craig Sauer, who was upstairs in his dorm while the attack continued downstairs.
Sauer also asked the producers to add a disclaimer, since it would likely be traumatic to survivors to unexpectedly hear Lo's voice on the radio. He asked that instead they consider a story about the survivors, a story "frequently ignored."
Sauer told The Eagle that Lo's rampage still haunts people who were touched by the shooting in some way.
"It is a big pool of trauma," he said.
Heather Bellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.
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