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Five Years After The Shootings, Healing Continues At NIU

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NIU Campus

Northern Illinois University campus (Photo courtesy niu.edu)

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DEKALB, Ill. (CBS) — A remembrance ceremony was held Thursday on the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Northern Illinois University.

The tolling of a lone bell could be heard across the campus at NIU as students and family members of the five victims gathered to hear remarks from Gov. Pat Quinn and NIU President John Peters.

Ahead of the remarks, the families of Catalina Garcia, Daniel Parmenter, Gayle Dubowski, Julianna Gehant and Ryanne Mace laid wreaths at the memorial just outside of Cole Hall, where the shooting took place.

“Five years ago we lost five innocent souls in a tragedy that shook our state and our nation,” Quinn said. “That dark day was full of sadness, fear and despair and we will never forget.”

Peters, who is retiring this year, told the crowd that life on campus hasn’t been the same since the tragic day.

“What happened in Cole Hall five years ago forever changed Northern,” Peters said. “It taught us lessons that have transformed what it means to be a Husky.”

Once a lecture hall, Cole Hall has since been remodeled and now has three modern collaborative-learning areas and an anthropology museum. Right outside the building are the granite markers memorializing the deceased and a tree honoring the survivors.

“I think yet another sign of our moving forward, a sign of our healing process,” NIU spokesman Brad Hoey said.

One of those injured five years ago was Harold Ng, then an NIU junior. CBS 2’s Rob Johnson has interviewed him periodically since the shooting.

In an interview this week via Skype, Ng — now a blogger and author in Orlando, Fla., says he’s done his best to move on.

“You’ll definitely always feel some anger. I grew up at church and Christianity, so a lot of it helped me not to say I am angry because, if I am, then I am no better than the shooter himself,” Ng said.

Ng has written an on-line book about his travails, titled “That’s Just It”, which could help other victims of senseless shootings.

“I’m still healing every day,” he says.

NIU now has scholarships that honor those who lost their lives.

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