20 years ago, two students at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 12 of their classmates and one teacher in what was the deadliest school massacre in the nation’s history at the time.
Cary-resident Kacey Ruesgegger Johnson was a junior at the time and was sitting in the library reading a gossip magazine when gunfire erupted. The events that followed led to lifelong physical and mental scars and a declaration that she would never go into a library again.
She reluctantly went back into libraries as an adult while pursuing her nursing degree and has since taken another great leap into the public limelight. As the list of deadly school shootings grows, journalists and policymakers call on survivors like her to comment on the news of the day. As people pushed for her to write a book, she agreed instead to public appearances, but while on the road she realized the power of her journey and the impact her story had on others. Finally ready, she recently co-authored “Over My Shoulder: A Columbine Survivor’s Story of Resilience, Hope and a Life Reclaimed(OMS/2019)” with Karen Booker Schelhaas. In it Johnson details her brushes with death, grappling with PTSD, her survival techniques and her determination not to pass down her fear and anxiety to her children.