How has the Westside Tragedy changed history? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR - Will Carter Reports

How has the Westside Tragedy changed history?

"This is reality. This is the sad part of reality that hurts the most, is you've lost something and you can't get it back."

Everyday people like Brandi Varner awake with one less person in their lives.

Her sister Brittany Varner was one of the 5 shot and killed in 1998 in the Westside School shootings.

"I know it's changed me in how I look at my kids and wondering about schools and things like that. Are they ever really safe," asked Varner.

That is a question that's gotten a lot of national attention as numerous school shootings have occurred since Westside.

One of the biggest lessons learned is that nobody is isolated from an event of this nature.

"It changed all of us by taking away some of our naivety. It's almost trite to say, we all believed it could not happen here. It's true. We all believed were were insulated from this type of behavior and conduct," said attorney Bobby McDaniel.

He says being more aware is now a way of life.

"It made us more aware that we can't take things for granted, we can't take a threat as an idle threat, and everybody must do their part to chip in and make sure that nothing is assumed as being innocent, because you can't make the innocent assumption anymore," said McDaniel.

"That's the one point that I try to get across to everybody who asks is, just because it looks all friendly doesn't mean it always is," said Varner.

It's that lesson that will forever be attached to the Westside tragedy of 1998.

"I think people want something like Westside to remain in our conscious awareness so that we will raise our level of awareness, raise our vigilance, raise our level of protection that each of us may afford to each other and to our society as a whole," said McDaniel.

And for those like Varner, everyday is a reminder.

"The one thing that gets me is looking at her friends and knowing that she should be here with them and she's not. It's hard for me to look at them as grown people, and know that she should be grown as well," said Varner.

This march will mark the 10 year anniversary of the Westside Tragedy.

Since the event, both Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden are now free men.


Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.

 

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