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Charles 'Andy' Williams Sentencing Hearing

Aired August 15, 2002 - 13:59   ET


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the Santana High School shooting at the sentencing hearing for Charles Andy Williams. It's an emotional time for the victims, and friends and family members. We listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The place where worry (ph) manifested itself daily. It was a time where we would reflect on all our suffering and realized that we weren't alone, and that we would survive. So indeed, I had all the customary stress, but I knew it was all a part of teen angst. It was an awkward stage, indeed feeling isolated from the rest of the world and yet I knew I was normal. Hence, we were all -- we all left school hoping to return with a promising new year, arrayed with wonderful changes and a brand new experience.

We had no clue what this promising new year would truly bring. On March 5, 2001, our normal lives came to us -- came to an abrupt halt. The lives of 1,900 people were thrust into a terrifying reality. It was, in fact, a living nightmare. Virtually unthinkable happened. A student opened fire on our campus, shooting 13 and killing two others. It was something so unbelievable that even now, over a year since it happened, I still find myself struggling to come to grips with the whole thing.

I remember watching TV and seeing two of my closest friends being shuffled to the hospital. I talked with them a mere minute before they were shot, and I was left with the horrible feeling of wondering, what would have happened if I had stayed there. Would I have been killed? Could I have possibly protected them?

It became all too horrific when discovering two people had been murdered, and when I found myself, in the midst of so much despair, I thought to myself, How will I survive this?

To express the immense hopelessness, we felt that day is unattainable and can only be understood by those who shared the terrible experience. To have no tears left to shed, or to have this sense that you are lost in the depths of a nightmare -- that never seemed possible to me. But it is, and I felt it. At the same time, it warmed my empty heart to see the outpouring of love and support we received from so many people, most touching to me was the fact that students from Columbine High School took the time to come all the way down here and comfort us. They set aside the sorrow that still followed them from that horrible shooting just so that they could serve as some type of assurance for us. This act of kindness was one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received, but still I wish I hadn't gotten it. In my eyes, I was abnormal, along with the rest of us at Santana. We were forced to be distinguished from other teens, forced to hear people use us as a scapegoat for what happened. Why couldn't anyone understand that there was no answer as to what prompted this guy to do such a thing? Why couldn't anyone see that we were innocent? It was a year ago since that Christmas time in which everything was so excitingly unpredictable. For so many reasons, I have been able to take the time to enjoy this blessed holiday season, but still, my heart breaks at remembering the tragic events of this past year.

Only a year ago, my life was so incredibly different, I was happier, less focused on surviving from day-to-day. But as I stood, waiting for my dad to pick me up from school, and watched the same excitement of my peers that I had seen before, for one simple moment I forgot about all the grueling hardships that nobody my age should ever face. For that minute, I am as normal as I could possibly be, and then I realized that even though it all looks the same, the entire feeling was contrary. Now I see what a blessing it is to be here, alive, enjoying another Christmas with my friends and family.

Still, I also see how frustrating, how unruly it is that two people who were here on this earth not even two years before going through the same emotions as I, are no longer here. Two people, in which so many ways were just like me, leading ordinary lives, are dead. Of course, it is not fair. It is not fair that 1,900 people have to exist every day thinking about the shooting, wondering what it would be like if things were different. It is not fair that our lives were constantly and sometimes still are being played on televisions, and radios across the world. It is not fair that we have to live our lives with a newfound type of fear, being aware that it is way too factual, that we could die at any time, in any place, and it isn't fair that we are still trying to find the end of the long and winding road to recovery.

Nonetheless, we continue to go on being as normal as possible. The best way to overcome our enemies is to persevere and heal. After all, what is normal anyway, right? Life is what you make it, and nothing more. So I'll go on dealing with issues that may differ from the majority of high school students out there, but I'll allow myself to be the same as they are. Because above all, I'm a teen.

I agree with what my friend wrote. She wrote it very well, and everything that she is saying there is something that I would have said if I had -- if I had been able to.

One thing before I would like to leave, that no matter what may happen, no matter what did happen, I would like to say that I forgive him for what he has done. I forgive him, but that doesn't take away the pain that is still inside. That doesn't take away the fear of walking down the street and hearing a noise such as a firecracker, or someone making a loud sound, I can't help to think that is not anything else but a gun.

That day, on March 5, I had no idea that it was a gun. To me, a gun sounded totally different. From sound effects that you hear on radios or music tapes, so in my mind, any noise that comes I could think, while maybe it is just a different gun. To have to face that fear is more than you would imagine. To have to live your life, knowing that anything could happen, anywhere, from anyone. Whether you are alone, with friends, with family.

Hopefully, this is a scar that will eventually heal. The scar that I now have on my finger is still there, and will forever be there. I look at it to remind myself that this actually happened. I can still see it's fragments of the bullet that actually went through my finger. It didn't just graze it. It went through. To think that something could actually go through my body that represented an act of violence because of anger, or whatever it may have been, is something that I try to remind myself is still real, and it still can happen at any other school or public place or home, but unfortunately we can't stop that. We can't tell the future. But now, after this has happened, we can make a difference.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, ma'am.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Listening to very powerful, very stirring words of a young victim from a school shooting that took place in Santana High School. Sentencing going on there for the suspect -- or the man convicted.




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