2003 Parker graduate in building next door to shooting

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Saturday, February 16, 2008
— This was not the way Cas Prime wanted to get re-acquainted with Parker High School classmates and teachers.

The former Huskie football player is completing work on his degree at Northern Illinois University and was in a building next door to Cole Hall just minutes before the shooting Thursday afternoon.

“I was walking to go off campus when I heard the sirens,” Prime said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “I thought there was an accident or something.”

Instead, it was part of the response to the shooting in an auditorium. Six students were shot to death. The shooter, 27-year-old former student Stephen Kazmierczak, reportedly shot himself to death during the outburst.

Prime, a 2003 Parker graduate, said the hours after the shooting were chaotic, made worse when the phone system jammed.

“There are 25,000 people here, and all of them were trying to make phone calls,” Prime said. “It was a huge mess.”

Prime said he’s since received many calls.

“I’ve gotten calls from high school friends—people who I haven’t talked to in five years. A lot of my old coaches to see if I was OK,” he said.

Prime said he’s haunted by thoughts of Thursday’s events in the familiar building.

“Cole Hall, I walk through there a lot,” he said. “You cut through there to get to other buildings. I was in the building next door.”

Prime, whose football career at NIU was hampered by several injuries, says the shooting will have a long-term effect on the DeKalb campus.

“It will be interesting to see how the university approaches this,” Prime said. “A lot of people won’t be coming to classes. They’re scared. A lot of parents are saying, ‘I don’t want my kid going to class. It’s not safe.’”

Prime takes a realistic stand.

“One thing people have to understand is that this was something that is out of our hands,” said Prime, who will turn 24 next month. “There’s nothing you can do. Something is really wrong to make a person do something like that.

“That’s not bravery. It’s wrong.”

Prime did not know any of the students who were killed, but he did say that a football teammate was in the class at the time. He escaped unharmed.

“It makes you think,” Prime said. “Are you really safe? You never know when something like this can happen.”

Last updated: 4:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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