NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After being robbed of her innocence and the use of her legs, a school shooting survivor is speaking out as students prepare to return to class.
“That day is the day my life changed forever,” said Missy Jenkins. That day was December 1, 1997. “I was in 10th grade, a sophomore in high school. The shooter, his name was Michael Carneal, and he was a freshman.”
Jenkins and her friends had just finished their daily morning prayer in the lobby of Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky when shots rang out.
“There were three slow pops. Then there was a spray of bullets, and I was hit in the spray,” she remembered.
“I didn’t know where I was shot, but where it was, actually was right here. There’s a purple dot. See?” she pointed out her wound. “It went through there.” Jenkins said it didn’t hurt because in that instant, at 15-years-old, she was paralyzed.
“It’s mid-chest so I don’t have any feeling in my stomach. I can’t sit up straight very well,” she said.
Memories of that deadly day are seared in the minds of many, including her twin sister, Mandy.
“She crawled over to me and hovered over me until he stopped shooting,” Jenkins said. “She looked at me and said ‘be strong don’t die.'”
Three girls didn’t survive.
Turns out the 14-year-old shooter was bullied by upperclassmen two weeks prior. He had pulled out a gun in front of them.
“The boys laughed at him and said ‘that’s just a 22,’ and said ‘that won’t do anything to anybody,” Jenkins stated.
Michael Carneal came back with enough ammunition to shoot everyone in the school twice, according to Jenkins.
Nearly 25 years later, there’s a long list of schools where mass shootings have happened. Including a school in the county next to Heath High School.
A 15-year-old gunman opened fire in Marshall County killing two people in 2018.
“I always said, ‘just because it happened in our area, doesn’t mean that we’re immune to something like this happening again.'”
Now, Jenkins is married and a mother of two boys.
“I’m not just a victim of the shooting. Now, I look after my babies,” she said.
She ponders, what will it take to stop the crime that bound her to a wheelchair?
“I’m not an expert, but I’ve had 25 years of thinking.” She admitted every school is different. “I can say at my school, what we needed that morning would have been a police officer.”
She added other facilities may need metal detectors, additional mental health resources, or anonymous sources for students to report potential threats.
“We’re going to have to put money towards it in order to see what’s going to work and what doesn’t,” Jenkins said.
But, we all must try to find a solution. She said, it’s only someone else’s problem until it happens to you.