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'It's been 25 years, it's still happening': School shooting survivor speaks out after Texas shootings

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Posted at 11:49 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 23:51:24-04

(LEX 18) — Twenty-five years after a Paducah woman survived one of Kentucky's deadliest school shootings, and she says the problem still hasn't gotten better.

"I think what's important is for us to have resource officers in school. If there was a way to do mentor-mentee to build a relationship because I know my shooter said he felt like he had no one to talk to not even at home," said Missy Jenkins Smith.

"It really hurts to see that after 25 years, which is when mine happened, that this is still something that we are still battling," said Murray resident Smith.

On December 1st, 1997 a fellow student opened fire on her prayer group at Heath High School.

"I was in the 10th grade. I attended a prayer circle every morning with some of my other classmates and my twin sister. I remember just only taking a few steps and that's when I heard the first gunshot."

Smith lost three classmates and the use of her legs that day.

"It bounced around inside of me and missed every major organ except my lung and hit my spinal cord," said Smith.

14-year-old Michael Carneal was arrested, and Smith spent 5 months in the hospital.

Smith returned to school, wheelchair-bound, after 5 months in the hospital and after graduation, she started on a mission to turn her pain into progress.

She published an award-winning book called “I Choose to Be Happy” and shared her story at schools across Kentucky.

But she said Tuesday's shooting at Robb Elementary in Texas is a painful reminder of the impact gun violence can have on the nation.

"I was very upset to find something like this happening to little kids, elementary school kids that many," said Smith.

This marks the 27th shooting on school property in the US in 2022. Smith said she is calling on schools to be more proactive.