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After Boulder Shooting, Columbine’s Former Principal Offers Message of Hope

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Monday’s shooting in Boulder, Colo., that left 10 people dead, including a police officer and at least three grocery store employees, brought back memories for Frank DeAngelis, a former principal of Columbine High School.

In April 1999, a pair of student gunmen killed 13 people and wounded 21 others at Mr. DeAngelis’s school in Littleton, outside Denver. The event plunged the nation into sorrow and set the stage for more mass shootings to come over the next two decades.

“It’s overwhelming,” Mr. DeAngelis told The New York Times this week. “Colorado’s been through so much.”

He is so regularly contacted after mass shootings that he has become the state’s grief-counselor-in-chief. He told CBS Denver that by sharing his story he has helped others cope.

“It’s not that I’m an expert, but I think that when I talk to people and I say, ‘I know what you’re feeling,’ they understand what I’m saying,” Mr. DeAngelis said. “Wherever you are right now, we were there 21 years ago or 22 years ago.”

Since the Columbine attack, Mr. DeAngelis has consulted and assisted communities across the country after shootings, including one in suburban Cleveland and at Virginia Tech. He was also sought out by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission, a group that was leading efforts to build a memorial to the 20 children and six adults who died in a December 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

After Monday’s shooting, Mr. DeAngelis said he didn’t want a feeling of hopelessness to prevail.

“We can’t give up, and I never want us to get to a point in our lives where people are just saying, ‘OK, how many this time?’ where we become desensitized,” he told CBS. “We’ve got to say, ‘We can’t do this.’”

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