DEKALB, Ill. – Faculty members at Northern Illinois University are undergoing training about how to help students cope with the aftermath of last week's campus shooting.
Faculty, graduate assistants and some staff will meet in groups of 50 to talk about last week's shooting spree that killed five students. The gunman — a former NIU student — later turned the gun on himself.
The training will continue all week while classes are canceled.
• Click here for photos of candlelight vigil.
Micky Sharma is director of NIU's counseling and student development center. He says the training will help faculty cope with the shooting and also coach them on how to deal with grieving students when classes resume on Monday.
About 300 volunteer counselors will come to campus next week and many will be paired with professors and work in classrooms.
Meanwhile, victims struggle to recover from the tragedy. Lauren Debrauwere has difficulty talking about the man who shot her twice last week as she sat in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. She's groggy from stomach surgery, and with a tube down her throat, her voice is rarely above a whisper.
But as the 19-year-old from suburban Barrington slowly recovers, she has been able to tell her family what happened last Thursday when a stranger walked onto the stage and opened fire, killing five of her classmates — including her boyfriend sitting next to her — and injuring nearly 20 more before turning a gun on himself.
She remembers everything, her father, Mark Debrauwere, said Monday, the same day families started laying the dead students to rest.
She didn't know Steven Kazmierczak and when he appeared on stage minutes before class was to end, she assumed he was there to make an announcement.
Then from somewhere behind him or underneath his clothing, appeared a shotgun. "He tried to shoot the instructor, who ducked behind the podium," Debrauwere said his daughter told him. Then, he said, Kazmierczak pointed the shotgun at the students sitting in front of him in the large lecture hall and pulled the trigger.
Lauren Debrauwere was sitting near the front of the class, and told her parents the gunman fired a handgun at her boyfriend, Dan Parmenter, then shot her twice — once in the hip and again in the abdomen — then shot a girl sitting next to her.
"It was almost like he went down a line," Mark Debrauwere said.
He said his daughter never had a chance to run, but lay crumpled on the ground, talking to Parmenter before possibly losing consciousness.
She was rushed to nearby Kishwaukee Community Hospital, where doctors found one bullet had exited her buttocks and the other had traveled up her body and lodged above her left breast, narrowly missing her heart.
She was conscious when she arrived at the hospital.
"She knew what had happened. She just said her stomach hurt, 'Please make it stop,"' Mark Debrauwere said.
She also knew something else.
"She kept asking us about Dan and we lied to her for a while but she knew (he'd been killed)," he said. "She saw it. She definitely had seen what happened."
Debrauwere said his daughter, who was later airlifted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is expected to make a full recovery and may be released from the hospital soon.
"How long the mental side of it (will take), I don't know," he said.
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• Click here for photos.
Mark Debrauwere planned Monday to attend visitation for Parmenter at Hursen Funeral Home in west-suburban Hillside, where many of Parmenter's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers — wearing ribbons in remembrance of the 20-year-old sophomore — visited during the afternoon.
A large bouquet of flowers from the fraternity Sigma Pi sat next to Parmenter's casket, along with a card bearing the message, "We will all remember your son Dan as a wonderful person." Photographs of Parmenter as a child and Boy Scout and as a young man skiing and playing volleyball were placed nearby.
The line of mourners snaked around the side of the funeral home Monday afternoon. Dozens waited in the near-zero temperatures, some clutching flowers and cards.
"Dan was a quiet young man, very nice and very determined," said family friend George Sefer of Elmhurst.
Wind chills below zero also didn't keep about 300 people from attending a candlelight vigil at the University of Illinois, where Kazmierczak was a graduate student in the School of Social Work.
Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman urged those gathered to honor the students killed at NIU by living with compassion and kindness.
"The candles that you hold tonight will burn out soon," Herman said. "But the lasting flame in your hearts, the love that this troubled world so desperately needs, must burn forever."
Wynne Korr, the dean of the social work school, said her students mourn Kazmierczak's loss, too, calling him "a classmate and a friend."
In Blacksburg, Va., more than 1,000 people gathered Monday for a candlelight vigil on the Virginia Tech campus. That school was rocked last April when a student killed 32 people before killing himself.
Earlier Monday, mourners gathered at Our Lady of the Mount Church to pay their last respects to Catalina Garcia, who was remembered as a "daughter of Cicero" by city officials in the heavily Hispanic suburb.
"She chose the hard path to pursue university education," NIU President John Peters said at the 20-year-old's funeral. Garcia, the youngest of four children in a family that had immigrated to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, was studying to become a teacher.
"She had goals and dreams. She inspired us all and should inspire young people of our community," Peters said.
A mariachi band played hymns during the Spanish Mass that attracted hundreds of mourners, who filled the pews, and spilled out into hallways and a foyer.
They saw photographs of Garcia, arranged to spell "Cati," her nickname. They saw Garcia's body, dressed in a pink ballgown-style dress and jeweled tiara inside a pale pink casket. And because they knew pink was her favorite color, many mourners themselves wore their own pink ribbons, ties and hair bands.
"Many people look for a reason ... in the newspaper and on television," the Rev. Larry Collins said in Spanish. "But we can never know the reason ... We have to look at this in another way. It is a time for faith."
Services were also held Monday for 19-year-old Ryanne Mace, who aspired to be a therapist and whose father, Eric Mace, reminisced about "her ability to listen to the almost endless stream of problems that teenagers have."
"While I chose a career of fixing machines, she chose to fix other people," Eric Mace said in a statement read at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles.
In NIU's hometown of DeKalb, Samantha Dehner, who was shot twice during the attack, was released from Kishwaukee Community Hospital.
Dehner, 20, underwent a 2-hour surgery Friday to repair a shattered bone in her arm. She attended part of a Monday news conference with her doctors, but didn't speak and began to cry before being wheeled from the room.
Dehner's physicians said they're unsure whether she'll ever regain full use of her right arm and elbow.
Dehner's family said the sophomore from Carol Stream had been friends with Gayle Dubowski, who was killed in the attack and was close friends with at least one other wounded student.
"We do consider ourselves lucky that we're able to take ours home," said her father, Robert Dehner, who choked up as he described the outpouring of community support.
He said his daughter would return to NIU in the fall and move into her sorority house, Sigma Kappa.
"She's a tough kid. She'll make it," he said. "She says, 'You know dad. I was shot, I think I deserve a car."'