Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Northern Returns to School

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Patrol Officer Greg Minx of the Illinois State Police walks past a student on Northern Illinois University’s DeKalb campus Monday, the first day of classes after the university closed for more than a week following the Feb. 14 shootings in Cole Hall. Minx said there were five patrol officers on campus throughout the day.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG For some students, Monday was the first day back on campus since the Feb. 14 shootings. Thousands of flowers, handwritten notes and mementos lay at the base of a memorial near King Commons.

NIU Memorial Service Draws Thousands

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Thousands of members in the Northern Illinois University and DeKalb-area communities lined up outside of the Convocation Center on Sunday afternoon before a memorial service for the five students slain on the NIU campus Feb. 14.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Attendees at Sunday evening's memorial service for those slain on Feb. 14 were processed through metal detectors and asked not to bring bags or purses as security measures were heightened in the wake of the shootings.

Northern Illinois University sophomores Amy Haefneru, left, and Eric Duffek embrace inside the Convocation Center on Sunday evening before the start of the memorial service for those slain on the NIU campus Feb. 14.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Family members of those slain on the Northern Illinois University campus were given white flowers to hold during the memorial service at the Convocation Center on Sunday evening.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University President John Peters embraces his wife, Barbara Peters, after welcoming a crowd of more than 10,000 to the Convocation Center on Sunday night for a memorial service for those slain on campus Feb. 14. “For all of those who seek healing, your presence here tonight wraps us in a warm embrace and reminds us that we are not alone,” Peters said. “We are not islands, but bridges — bridges to each other and bridges to the world.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University staff and faculty were given seating on the arena floor at the Convocation Center for Sunday evening's memorial service.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill) entered the Convocation Center during the student memorial service for those slain on Feb. 14 as a representative of the state of Illinois.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG It was an emotional evening of reflection as the five Northern Illinois University students slain on Feb. 14, Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace, and Daniel Parmenter, were remembered at the Convocation Center on Sunday.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Audience members were asked to light small lights to create a sea of illumination during the singing of the Northern Illinois University fight song "Alma Mater" at the conclusion of Sunday's memorial service.

Jordin Hood, Cancer Survivor


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Jordin Hood, a cancer survivor and the starting second-baseman for the Northern Illinois University baseball team, takes batting practice on the university campus on Wednesday. Hood, 20, was diagnosed with testicular cancer as a sophomore at Lake Zurich High School and says that the ordeal changed the way he lives his life. "Even if you have something bad in your life, you can accomplish things and succeed," he said.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University sophomore Jordin Hood attends a Contemporary Social Institutions sociology class at DuSable Hall on the morning of Feb. 14.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University baseball player Jordin Hood, right, walks with his girlfriend Kim Bailey, 19, after class on Feb. 14. Hood, 20, survived a bout with testicular cancer to become a recruited athlete and starting second-baseman for the Huskie squad. "He's a kind of laid back person," Bailey said. "He's very caring about the people who matter to him."


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University baseball player Jordin Hood attaches a memorial sticker for those killed during the Valentine's Day shootings on campus at a baseball practice on Thursday. "It's scary thinking about what happened," Hood said. "It kind of opened my eyes a lot, don't take things for granted."

The Run Ends for G-K


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston guard Jimmy Lopez drives into Aurora Christian's Joe Redmond in the first quarter of the Aurora Christian regional final in Aurora on Friday night.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The Genoa-Kingston bench and Cog fans are sullen as the final seconds tick off of the clock on the Cogs' season.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Genoa-Kingston guard Scott Suchy covers his head with his jersey after the final seconds of the Cogs' 58-52 loss to the Aurora Christian Eagles 58-52 in the Aurora Christian regional final on Friday night in Aurora. The Cogs finish their season 21-7, their most under head coach Corey Jenkins, and co-champions of the Big Northern Conference West Division.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

3:06 p.m., One Week Later

One Week Later in Sight and Sound

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Kishwaukee Community Hospital employees and DeKalb-area residents such as Karen Richardson, left, of Sycamore, came to the hospital to observe a five-minute silence to honor the memory of those slain last Thursday on the Northern Illinois University campus. "This hospital did such an amazing job, I wanted to be here," Richardson said. "The only thing that is going to get us through this is each other."

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Around 75 people came to the lobby of Kishwaukee Community Hospital to observe five minutes of silence in honor of those killed on Feb. 14. Similar observances took place around the city of DeKalb and on the university campus.

Red and Black All Over

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University senior Kevin Gorman, 23, crafts a memorial ribbon out of a roll of black ribbon and a roll of red ribbon with the NIU logo on Wednesday afternoon at Village Commons Bookstore. Employees at the store — about 80 students work part time there — have created more than 2,000 ribbons since Monday and plan to make as many as they can sell to support a scholarship fund established in honor of the students slain Feb. 14. The ribbons will cost $1.


Ribbons

Story and Photograph by Eric Sumberg

Ribbons are everywhere around DeKalb. On jackets and T-shirts, streetlamps and signposts, the colors black, red and white - some with images of huskies or paw prints, others held together with jewels or pins - have been making a strong showing in the past week.

All in support of the five students who lost their lives - Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Dan Parmenter - and the 16 injured when gunman Steven Kazmierczak opened fire

Feb. 14 in a classroom in Cole Hall before turning a gun on himself.

Perhaps your ribbon was made by Michelle Jurinak, 20, a Northern Illinois University student from Fox Lake, at the Village Commons Bookstore. Employees at the shop, located about 300 yards from Cole Hall on Lucinda Avenue, have been working feverishly to produce the portable memorials.

“We stop to ring people up and then start packing them again,” Jurinak said while tying together a strip of black ribbon and a strip of red ribbon decorated with Huskie paws at the bookstore Wednesday afternoon. “For a while, as soon as we were making them, we were giving them away like hotcakes.”

It was not the intention of the store to sell the ribbons, but after customers came to the second-floor shop asking for large numbers of them, store manager Lee Blankenship decided they needed to charge a nominal amount. The $1 price for the ribbons will go toward the February 14 Student Scholarship Fund, which is being administered by the university.

“I made the decision that I would not make a profit nor appear to make a profit from the tragedy,” Blankenship said.

Village Commons Bookstore, which opened in 1970, was busy Wednesday afternoon, though many of the customers did not appear to be of college age.

“We've had different people,” Blankenship said. “A lot of townspeople or parents. People want to buy shirts to associate with the school.”

Though he wasn't on campus at the time of the shooting, Blankenship came to his store as soon as he heard of the tragedy. In the minutes after the attack, a female who had been injured in the shooting had walked in and was cared for by staff members before being taken to an area hospital. When he arrived, he gathered those who remained and together they made the decision to close down the store until Monday.

“I could see the employees were very upset,” he said.

Since re-opening Monday, the store has been working hard to keep up with demand for ribbons and merchandise. As of Tuesday, 1,444 ribbons had been sold with hundreds more made Wednesday. The main issues that employees are facing are finding enough black ribbon and coping as they work.

“This is very positive,” Courtney Carrie, 20, said of the act of being together making ribbons with a group of seven other student employees. “All of our managers and bosses have been great. It makes everything better knowing everyone is going through the same thing.”

Red Moon over DeKalb

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A full moon rises on Wednesday night over the fields of DeKalb on the evening of the lunar eclipse.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Tragedy at Northern Illinois University

A Journalist's Note

It has been five days since the shootings in Cole Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University. I was on campus that Thursday afternoon, taking pictures of a baseball player in the school's Recreation Center. At 3:10, my editor called me to say there had been a shooting on campus. By 3:13, I had taken the first frame of what has turned out to be the most difficult assignment of my photojournalism career.

Even with the distance of a camera lens between myself and the victims of the shooting and later the grieving members of the DeKalb community, it is not possible to be separate. This is where I live, this is where I work, this is my town as well. It has not been easy to make these images, but it is the job of the photojournalist to record and to tell the stories of those with whom we meet, and even those we don't.

My strongest sentiment of sorrow and compassion are reserved for those who lost their close friends or family on February 14. It is not for me to say that I know what your pain is, but I too am experiencing some of it and it is horrible.

As we have seen in other places where tragedies such as this have struck, the response is not to cloister, but to open. The DeKalb and NIU communities have already begun this process and the catharsis and healing that accompany it have arrived, in small parts, as well.

-Eric

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A group of students stand outside of Cole Hall at 3:13 p.m. and watch as emergency personnel secure the outside of the building in the center of the Northern Illinois University campus. Cell phone service would soon become impossible as thousands attempted to make calls in the moments after the shooting which began shortly after 3 p.m. on February 14.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Tactical police forces sprint to the scene of the shooting in Cole Hall. Steven P. Kazmierczak, 27, a former NIU graduate student, had taken his own life after shooting at random from the stage of an auditorium, killing five students and wounding 16.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Emergency medical personnel rush a victim of the shooting rampage on the campus of Northern Illinois University to a waiting ambulance
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Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG As an unidentified victim is transported from Cole Hall to a waiting ambulance onlookers took out cameras to capture the scene for themselves.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University junior Lee Scott, 21, prays outside of Cole Hall after seeing shooting victims being wheeled out of the room in which six of his fellow students were killed and 16 were injured in a deadly rampage on the university campus on Thursday. "I got to see blood on their faces," Scott said. "Who would do this?

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A parking lot near Cole Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University became a staging area for the dozens of emergency personnel from throughout DeKalb County and beyond who responded to the shooting at the DeKalb campus.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG By nightfall on Thursday, a perimeter had been set roughly 75 yards in each direction around Cole Hall as authorities worked at the crime scene.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University student Lauren Diehl lights a candle at a midnight vigil on Thursday evening at the corner of Lucinda Street and Normal Road that was attended by dozens of members of the community on campus.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The makeshift memorial in the snow at the corner of Lucinda Street and Normal Road was the first of a few sites on campus which became gathering points for mourners in the days after the shooting.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG By Friday morning, national and local media had converged on the campus, creating scenes such as the one above in which members of a christian fraternity who were praying at the center of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Commons were surrounded by photo, audio and video equipment.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG On Friday morning, a press conference was held at Northern Illinois University's Altgeld Hall at which NIU Police Chief Donald Grady identified the gunman in Thursday's shooting rampage on campus as former Northern graduate student Steven Kazmierczak, 27, of Champaign.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University President Dr. John Peters was stoic on stage during the Friday press conference in which the gunman as well as some of the victims were identified.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG A man prays before the start of a midday mass at the Newman Catholic Student Center near the campus of Northern Illinois University less than 24 hours after a gunman went on a shooting rampage, killing five students and himself in Cole Hall on Thursday.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Congregants at Friday's midday Mass at the Newman Catholic Student Center near the campus of Northern Illinois University were grappling with grief one day after a shooting rampage on the Dekalb campus.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Monsignor Glenn Nelson of the Newman Catholic Student Center spoke of the need for forgiveness, even in times of anger, at the midday Mass on Friday. "It's normal to feel anger and to want to go back and hurt someone else, but that doesn't help," he said. "The only thing to do is to let anger go away and forgive."

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University students, from left, Adam Terrell, 20, Meagan Schoenrock, 20, and Jody Hardwick, pray at the Newman Catholic Student Center on Friday afternoon. "Praying is the one thing we feel like everyone is doing now," Hardwick said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University undergraduate Matt Westerholt, 24, signs a memorial wall dedicated to victims of Thursday's shooting rampage that is located in the center of the DeKalb campus on Friday evening.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG By Friday evening, six crosses, for victims Gayle Dubowski, 20, Catalina Garcia, 20, Julianna Gehant, 32, Ryanne E. Mace, 19, and Dan Parmenter, 20, as well as gunman Steven Kazmierczak, 27, had been erected at the top of a hill within viewing distance of the site of the shooting rampage on the Northern Illinois University campus. In the coming days, the cross designated for Kazmierczak was removed.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG On Friday night, Northern Illinois University senior Kate McCullagh stood at the site of a memorial for the six students who were killed in a shooting rampage on Thursday afternoon in DeKalb. "I just came because I need to be here," McCullagh said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG By Saturday, the DeKalb community had responded to Thursday's shootings at Northern Illinois University with ribbons, pins and banners. NIU students Jaclyn Gette, 20, and Staci Sampson created this banner which now hangs from their home on Sycamore Road. "We're doing this for the people that were there," Gette said. "We're there for one another."

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Bethany Hawkins spent three hours on Friday creating red, white and black ribbons to give to her friends at Northern Illinois University and co-workers at Panera Bread on Sycamore Road on Saturday. She plans on making fifty more to give away on Sunday."The feeling I hate most is being helpless," Hawkins, 20, said. "I felt compelled to reach out and do something."

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Downtown DeKalb became a corridor of red, white and black as businesses decorated their storefronts with signs and balloons were hung on light posts along Lincoln Highway.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Shienel Gerald, 23, a Northern Illinois University employee and former student who now works at the Laundry Lounge on West Lincoln Highway in Dekalb, still has trouble retaining her composure when she thinks about horrific events on Thursday. "I feel this relationship to the students," Gerald said. "It's like the spirit of the campus is gone with those people."

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG On a night in which DeKalb and Sycamore were united as one with Northern Illinois University, Jarrett Sykes, 6, held a placard during a moment of silence to honor the memory of those slain on the DeKalb campus Thursday before the start of Saturday evening's intra-town boys basketball game between DeKalb and Sycamore High Schools.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Students in the DeKalb High School cheering section painted their chests with the words "In Our Hearts" to symbolize their solidarity with Northern Illinois University.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore's Will Strack, left, leaps to defend a driving layup by DeKalb's Matt Larsen in the second half of the their tightly contested game on Saturday night at Chuck Dayton Gymnasium in DeKalb.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Sycamore High School cheerleader Stephanie Sayles, right, 18, leads a silent cheer during the second half of Saturday night's Dekalb and Sycamore boys basketball game. Sycamore High School purchased Northern Illinois University T-shirts for their cheerleaders to wear and the squad made ribbons to memorialize those who lost their lives in Thursday's shooting rampage on the DeKalb campus.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG DeKalb center Jordan Threloff, center, celebrates with Barb fans after he sank a free throw with 2.9 seconds remaining in overtime to put DeKalb on top of Sycamore 66-65 on Saturday night at Chuck Dayton Gymnasium.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Four people, compelled to action by the tragic shooting on Thursday at Northern Illinois University, created a monument in snow to the memory of those lost that day. Clockwise from top left, Dave Pearson, 50, Nick Zangler, 20, Sarah Pearson, 21, and Katrina Olle, 20, worked five hours on Saturday night to make an NIU at the Pearson home on Cynthia Place.

A Monument of Their Own

In the wake of Thursday's shootings at Northern Illinois University, four DeKalb residents created a memorial using material provided by nature.

On Saturday night, Dave Pearson and three NIU students - his daughter, 21-year-old Sarah Pearson, her boyfriend, 20-year-old Nick Zangler, and their friend, 20-year-old Katrina Olle - used snow to spell out N-I-U in block letters in front of the Pearson home on Cynthia Place in DeKalb. The monument is about 7 feet high and 16 feet wide.

“I thought it would be a therapeutic thing for them,” said Dave Pearson, 50. “A memorial, a symbol, instead of having a pile of snow on the front yard.”

While Saturday's sculpture was certainly inspired, the Pearsons have been creating snow sculptures for more than 15 years. The elder Pearson also volunteers his time at the Stage Coach Theatre as a set designer.

“I did kind of think it would be neat for them and for me, too,” Dave Pearson said. “We grew up on that campus and it's close to me, too.”

It took about five hours to build the monument. Dave Pearson and Zangler marked the letters with spray paint, and Olle and Sarah Pearson, with some additional help from Dave Pearson's wife, Patti, helped to dig out the letters. More snow was added before freezing the monument with water from a hose.

“It was more fun than I thought it was going to be,” Olle said.

For Sarah Pearson, the action was a welcome respite from the emotional strain of the past few days.

“It was good to know we were doing something in support of Northern,” she said. “I feel much better.”

Sarah Pearson said she feels a need to be around people who are going though the same experience she is. The university is closed this week.

“I'm excited to see how everyone's going to come together,” she said. “That and there's not that much to do around here.”

She and her mother created about 125 red and black ribbons, which she distributed at the South Fourth Street branch of American National Bank, where she works. Her mother, who works at Jefferson Elementary School in DeKalb, also gave out the ribbons. They have made more to donate to the community.

In the virtual realm, a picture that a passer-by took of the snow letters has been posted to a Facebook group titled “Pray for Northern Illinois University Students and Families” that now has 136,000 members.

“Me and Nick have been checking it every half-hour watching to see how people are showing their support,” Sarah Pearson said. “We wanted everyone to know that we support Northern.”

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Northern Illinois University employees Angie Euhus, left, and LaMetra Curry embrace before the start of an interfaith service of prayer, song and reflection for the DeKalb community at DeKalb High School on Monday night. "I have to return to work and I just felt I needed something to prepare me for the students coming back and to help me heal," Euhus said.

Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Rebecca Parfitt, bottom right, a counselor at Safe Passage women's shelter in DeKalb, was among the local clergy and community leaders who spoke to a crowd of more than one hundred who came to DeKalb High School on Monday night for an interfaith service of prayer, song and reflection in the wake of Thursday's shootings at Northern Illinois University.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG Visitors pay their respects Wednesday night at five crosses planted in the ground near King Memorial Commons on the campus of Northern Illinois University. The crosses are in honor of the five students slain in a Feb. 14 shooting at Cole Hall that also left 16 other people injured and the gunman dead. Many of the flowers left at the memorial are from students at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. Area florists have said they have received and placed numerous orders at the memorial from Virginia Tech students who wish to show their solidarity and support of NIU.


Chronicle photo ERIC SUMBERG The ethos of the day is captured in marker on each of the eight sheets of paper on display at Martin Luther King Commons at the center of campus.