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Renovation Halfway Done At NIU’s Cole Hall

Cole Hall

Police secure the crime scene on Feb. 15, 2008, after a shooting rampage at Cole Hall on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb, Ill., on Feb. 14, 2008. (Credit: Amanda Rivkin/AFP/Getty Images)

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DEKALB, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – Remodeling of the building where five students were shot to death at Northern Illinois University three years ago is at its midpoint, and officials say students can expect something special when it’s complete in the fall.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the newly redesigned Cole Hall is scheduled to open sometime during the fall. No actual date has yet been set.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

NIU spokesman Joe King says the building badly needed remodeling since the old lecture hall “was essentially untouched” since it was built in the 1960s.

He says the new lecture hall will be a lot more up-to-date. It will have screens all around so students can more easily see what a professor is displaying and seats will swivel so students can work in groups.

“It will be an atmosphere that’s much more suited to the way learning takes place today,” King said.

Cole Hall will also be home to NIU’s Anthropology Museum. The museum had been housed in converted classrooms for decades.

On Feb. 14, 2008, a geology class was in progress in a lecture room in the building, when the door burst open. A strange man set a guitar case on the floor, pulled out a gun, and began shooting.

Five people were killed in the incident – Catalina Garcia, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; Ryanne Mace, 19; Daniel Parmenter, 20; and Gaybe Dubowski, 20. A total of 21 others were injured.

The gunman, Steven Kazmierczak, 27, shot and killed himself before police arrived on the scene.

He had attended NIU previously, but at the time was doing graduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He had purchased the firearms he used in the shooting legally in Champaign.

Following the shooting, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed that Cole Hall be demolished, but the idea was later rejected.

To view the plans for Cole Hall, click here.