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Victim, Rescuer Recall Shooting

Harold Ng
I was in the back row, getting ready to put my book bag onto the chair, when I looked up and saw two people onstage--the professor and him. It was really fast. I remember seeing the shotgun and I saw him fire it twice. He started shooting right into the air, firing randomly. He wasn't targeting anyone. Everyone was screaming. People were really freaked out and started running toward the door. I left behind my jacket with my apartment keys, my cell phone, my iPod. I left my book bag. I thought, "Can this really be happening so close to home?"

I started running toward the door. I heard gunshots, but I didn't feel anything. No pain at all. I ran outside the building and was trying to comb my hair back. I brushed my hand all the way back, and when I checked it, it was all bloody. Covered in blood. It happened so fast. I kept thinking, "This can't be real." I tried to remain calm and stay strong. I ran to Neptune Hall, a residence nearby. I just wanted to get somewhere safe. Once I got inside, a bunch of people gathered around me and told me to sit down. They got me a Pepsi and a Butterfinger. A friend of mine walked up to me and said, "Hey." I told her, "I'm bleeding." She was in shock. People sat me down in a stairwell. They used towels to apply pressure. I was shaking a little bit, mainly because of the shock. There was a guy [Jeff Merkel], a former Marine, who bandaged my head with gauze.

After a while, the paramedics arrived. They had to deal with other people who were in more critical condition. I was managing fine. I had energy to walk. Friends helped me walk to the stretcher and I laid down. Two paramedics took me to Kishwaukee Hospital. I was classified "green," so they basically put me in a corner. I was talking to another classmate who also had been wounded. I lifted my hand up with a fist--a "fight on, we'll be all right" gesture.

I knew I was going to be OK. There was a lot of blood, but I didn't feel any pain. They did a CT scan at the hospital and found that three pellets had penetrated the skin. It didn't require surgery. The doctors also found debris that hit my skin, probably from a shell casing. They washed the wound, gave me antibiotics and said I was clear to go. The nurses and doctors got hold of my parents and told them the situation. They were really calm about it.

I give thanks to God that I survived. I feel lucky, blessed. But I don't know when I'll go back there. It'll definitely be different. I'll probably be more aware of my surroundings. But it's over with now. I have to move on.

—As told to Hilary Shenfeld

Jeff Merkel
I was cutting through the Law School Building to get to my 3:30 "Democracy in Developing Nations" class. I had to get there early to pick up some notes from a professor for an independent study class.

As soon as I stepped outside there was a crowd of students running from Cole [Hall]. I took my iPod out and heard them scream, "Shooter, shooter, shooter!" 

I said OK and turned around and went inside the law building went into the first classroom, right inside the door and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, and I don't know whether this is real or not, but I am hearing a lot of people saying, 'Shooter.' Turn off your lights and get into the corner." I told them, "I have to work for the paper and I have to go."

I left the building and took off. My wife said that I called her. I don't remember calling her but I told her, "There's been a shooting, I'm OK, but I'm going to cover it."

I started running into other student journalists. I started talking to police because I feel I am better suited to talk to police because I have worked with a lot of guys who have become police so I feel cocky.

I saw police tending to a guy with a head wound and I started looking around, talking to anybody that I could. As I was talking to one of the guys inside the hall, I was walking him over to the police officers and [told them], "This guy was trampled on the way out, but it doesn't look like [he's] hurt beyond a lump in my head," but he was in shock.

As I was standing there I heard there were injured people inside Neptune Hall [one of the halls adjacent to Cole]. My city editor and I talked our way into Neptune and as we were walking around trying to make sense of it because it was still crazy in the building--not more than 15 to 20 minutes after the shooting.

I came down the steps and I saw a guy sitting there and there was blood on the floor, and [I] checked on him and he was being tended by some of the people there. They put towels on the back of his neck as he had been shot in the back of his head. I checked his breathing and made sure he didn't have any other wounds and made sure he wasn't gushing blood underneath his stuff.

A cop was there and this is when I stepped out of the reporter's role obviously and said, "Look, I'm a Corpsman, maybe I can help. Give me some gloves." He gave me some gloves and I swiped his first-aid bag and I took off through the building. I've been working at the paper for two semesters, but I've got five years of real life programming. It definitely overrode anything in those two semesters.

There was a lot of tension. There wasn't a lot of screaming, it wasn't running around. The people that were there were more than willing to listen to [what] the police had to say. The first responders did a great job. All I had to do was put gauze on [victims' wounds] in place of T-shirts and paper towels.

A couple of other students, one who was an Eagle Scout and one who was a lifeguard, said they were willing to help. I said, "This is what we need to do. Get on line and talk to every single person you see. If they are not hurt, they go to this side. If they are hurt, my name is Jeff and they should come this way and call my name." They did a wonderful job. They made it as easy as possible.

We found two other victims. With the help of some of the people sitting there we managed to wrap them up and get them to one spot. None of these injuries are life-threatening injuries. I told the policeman to get on the radio. We have three here, they are not emergency. We will get them on the ambulance as soon as we can but they are doing OK. 

After that I just walked around and took notes and went back into being a reporter. Once the paramedics showed, they said it looks good and put them in chairs and put them in the [ambulance] and my editor and I went back and started writing the story.

When I got back to the newsroom, casualty counts were difficult for us, so that is when I started going back to the military. I've made casualty boards before. I made the announcement that, "As you have facts, I need bullet points." We put them up on the board.

For me the flashbacks aren't so much vivid reconstructions of things of that happened to me, but the adrenaline feel of your legs are capable of doing anything but you can't feel them. You just kind of act. I lay awake for a long time last night trying to get my head around it. I haven't had to run on that kind of adrenaline for a long time. That was a very familiar feel for me.

I'm more worried about the depression that is going to follow. I know bad things can happen anywhere. It's just a bummer seeing it happen like this on such a large scale.

I got a call from one of my Army buddies last night. He was calling to make sure I was OK. I told him it's a kind of a curse. I keep finding myself at the center of these kinds of events.

I've been telling my wife the only thing that DeKalb has on the other places we have been is that no one has shot at me yet. I know that I wasn't shot at in this case, but this is too close to home.

—As told to Daniel I. Dorfman 

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