Friday was a peaceful day around Cleveland Elementary in Stockton, 23 years after what some were sure would be the worst school shooting to ever happen.
But, the pain of five children lost is close to the surface, now that tragic scenes from Connecticut are newly seared into the American psyche.
“They’re (kids), the most precious thing in the world. I don’t know why people do those things Why – I don’t know. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why,” said Vincente Campos.
The home Vicente Campos shares with his granddaughter Natalie faces the school where Patrick Purdy went on his murderous rampage back in 1989.
Natalie Soto says she knows what to do if she sees violence.
“We have to report it,” said 9-year-old Soto, a current Cleveland student.
No Cleveland teachers or administrators from 1989 remain on campus. Cameras were kept out of the halls Friday and the Connecticut incident was not discussed with the children.
The memories for other district staff are intense.
District Spokesperson Dianne Barth was a reporter for the Stockton Record newspaper in 1989.
“The biggest thing I recall were the parents because the parents were just hysterical and at the time there were helicopters landing on the playground,” said Barth.
Now, looking at another campus that will share the same terrible scar, she has this to say:
“I think on a day like today the best we can offer is our support to the Connecticut school. We feel terrible about what has happened,” said Barth.