TROUTDALE, Ore. – An entire city united to begin healing exactly one week after a teenager shot his classmate at school, and then killed himself. Emotions are still understandably raw for everyone affected by the violence at Reynolds High School.
Tuesday night, hundreds of people gathered on the school’s track for a service of hope and healing. It was the first time people have been welcomed back to the campus since the shooting.
Families of both the shooter, Jared Padgett, and the victim, Emilio Hoffman, attended the vigil, but the families did not meet at all.
Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust told the crowd, “I will not let this tragedy define his city.”
A woman who was a first responder, minutes after the attack happened, was also in the crowd.
June Vining is executive director of the Trauma Intervention Program (TIP). She lives in Troutdale, and was driving past Reynolds High School when the shooting happened.
"We watched police swarm the gym building. That's where my kids went to school,” Vining said.
The TIP program provides counseling and comfort to victims at the request of police and fire departments in Portland and Vancouver. The organization’s 200 volunteers respond to about 150 calls each month.
The call last week was right in her back yard.
"I told people it's not too close to home. It is home,” Vining said.
Last Tuesday morning, she found herself in the middle of the active shooting scene. A police officer recognized her when she pulled over to let several police vehicles pass her near Reynolds High School.
"We were there before a lot of the police even ended up getting there and just kind of sucked in to the chaos of the call, and then watching the kids be taken from the building across the street with their hands above their heads,” explained Vining.
Vining ended up evacuating students from the school after the shooting, while officers were busy securing the school.
"There are no words that make this OK. So all you can do is show up and listen,” Vining said.
And listen she has, likely to many of the people at Tuesday night’s vigil.
“I think it's pulled us together because we are, even though we are a big school we are a small community that cares, and at the same time I think it kind of tore at us,” Vining said.
Vining also said in 22 years of trauma counseling, she's never had to deal with anything like this.
"Clackamas Town Center. Closest thing I can relate it too,” she said, but she also explained, how this shooting was different.
“I think because it was a school. Because it was students. Because it was too close to home. Because of everybody affected. So many people."
Also among the crowd at the vigil, about 50 counselors, police officers, and other people who volunteered their time to make sure the vigil was safe event for everyone.