STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — It’s been 33 years since a shooting at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton that killed five children and injured many others.
The survivors of the Jan. 17, 1989 shooting say it’s something they have to live with every day.
“My first reaction was, of course, I was just horrified,” former Cleveland Elementary kindergarten teacher Adrienne Egeland said.
“Anytime there’s a mass shooting, to be honest, it just triggers just memories. Everything starts flowing back to that day,” Sinath Vann, a second-grader at the school in 1989, said.
Survivors recalled painful memories associated with that day.
“I believe I helped six or seven children,” Egeland said. “There was one girl outside the outside door that I could not help. And that’s something I’ve had to deal with all these years was that the thought went through my mind ‘I can’t help her. I have to walk past her and get to somebody else.'”
“I recall seeing a student just doing that ‘I want to take that one final hit with the tetherball’ and recall one teacher yelling at him ‘Hey! Run! Run! Run!’ and as he was walking towards the classroom he fell,” Vann said
Survivors like Vann and Egeland say every school shooting since then is like reliving a nightmare.
“It’s like a wound that’s never healed and it’s always— it’s like a scab you’re picking at it and it just reappears,” Vann said.
“Every time one of these incidents happens, you would think it would get easier to view them and take in the information but it gets harder,” Egeland said.
They said their hearts are with the victim’s families and the survivors of the Robb Elementary School Massacre in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two teachers were killed.
“I look at the people who were killed and the pictures and I see my brothers, I see my family in them even though they’re not,” Vann said.
The Cleveland shooting survivors said even 33 years later, the trauma from that day stays with them.
“We too have, may not be visible scars but there are definitely internal scars,” Vann said.
Both have a message for those impacted by mass shootings.
“I want them to know that they are not alone. That love is greater than hate,” Vann said.
“… I can’t say that that thing about time eases the pain. I can’t say that,” Egeland said.