FRANKFORT, KY., (LEX 18) — A survivor of the 1997 school shooting at a Kentucky High School is speaking out for the rights of crime victims after she says she wasn’t offered support in the aftermath of the shooting.
It was a normal morning at Heath High School, said Brittney Thomas, before gunshots rang out.
"The first thing I saw was my best friend Nicole fall to the floor," she said.
Thomas was lucky to get out of the school uninjured, she said, but her friend died from her injuries.
"No one really knew the impact that this would have not only on those who were injured physically," she said, "but those of us in the building, those of us who were direct witnesses and those of us in the entire community."
Because she was physically OK, Thomas said she felt confused after the shooting. She was told by an attorney that she wasn’t a victim because she wasn’t injured, she said.
"Victims and survivors come in all different types of forms and your wounds don’t have to be physical to be real," she said. "And they don’t have to be seen in order to be recognized."
She spoke in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday to several other crime victims as a part of the Attorney General’s Office of Victims Advocacy and the Survivors Council.
All victims of crime should not be ashamed to seek help, Thomas said, and it should be provided to them. She hopes to share her experiences with the survivors of the shooting at Marshall County High School.
"I would tell those kids and those parents that there is hope," she said. "Things do get better and it’s important for you to ask for help."