Patrick Causgrove could’ve been one of the first school shooting statistics.
He was reading a newspaper while waiting for his actuarial science class to begin in what used to be the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Ferguson Hall on Oct. 12, 1992, when he heard desks moving and people running. Causgrove looked up to see his classmate, Arthur McElroy, banging a rifle on the ground. McElroy had aimed at his fellow students and pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed.
It took a minute or less from when he looked up to when he began running from the classroom, Causgrove said.
“All I remember is everybody just sprinting out of there, and afterward we stood there thinking we were in shock,” Causgrove said.
McElroy left out of another exit and was arrested within half an hour of the incident. A court later found him not guilty of attempted second-degree murder by reason of insanity. He now resides in a nursing home where he is being treated for several chronic illnesses, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Causgrove said that when he and his classmates noticed McElroy had left on that fall day 23 years ago, they went back into the classroom to grab their backpacks. He and several classmates then went to a bar where they continued to discuss what happened. In the days that followed, he said he remembered interviews with the police and an assessment by a therapist.
But students returned to their normal lives quickly, said Causgrove.
“I remember the first couple nights afterward I had trouble sleeping, just amazed, replaying it over and over again,” he said. “But, in a week, two weeks, the students moved past it.”
Causgrove also said that media coverage of the event didn’t last long.
“I’m pretty sure back then it didn’t go national hardly at all, and it was out of the news pretty quickly,” he said.
The students who witnessed the incident graduated and Causgrove moved to Chicago to work as an actuary. A greenspace and the Old Glory statue replaced Ferguson Hall.
Causgrove said he doesn’t think about the incident much anymore. And his experience doesn’t relate to the school shootings of this decade because no one was harmed, he said.
“I really didn’t go through a tragedy like some of those poor students go through nowadays,” he said.
Still, he did not expect the increase in school shooting incidents.
“Back then, I never would’ve thought that this would be such a common deal,” he said. “I never would’ve guessed it, that years later, that 23 years later, I would be seeing it on the news every month or so, big or small. It’s very weird.”