A reporter covering the Nashville school shooting on Monday opened up on the air about being a school shooting survivor, saying the latest instance of American gun violence is something that “hits very close to home” for her.
In a clip that went viral on Monday, Joylyn Bukovac—a reporter for Nashville-based outlet WSMV 4—reflected on her experience as a survivor of a school shooting in Alabama in 2010. At the time, Bukovac said, she was in eighth grade.
“Many of you might not know this but I’m actually a school shooting survivor,” Bukovac said. “It happened a while ago. I was in middle school. And actually I was looking up statistics and I saw about 380 school shootings have happened since Columbine—my middle school being one of them, this school being one of them.”
Covering a story like this, she added, brings up “a lot of tough memories” and underlines the importance of giving survivors the space necessary to process a tragedy like this. This takes time, Bukovac noted.
“If your student witnessed the unthinkable today, just be very gentle with them and let them talk when they’re ready,” she said. “Because the shock that they’re going to be feeling coming home is going to be unfathomable.”
In a lengthier video, seen up top, Bukovac spoke in greater detail about the 2010 shooting and her advice for the victims’ families in the Covenant School shooting.
“A lot of parents are running up to me saying that they’re nervous for the future for their kids, and to be honest I’m right there with them,” she said. “Because I’ve seen exactly what gun violence can do firsthand. I was in the hallway when the gunman at my school shooting opened fire, shooting and killing one of my peers. And just the shock that moves through your body, I can’t even describe it. You just go into true fight-or-flight.”
Bukovac then recounted hiding beneath the risers in choir class as family members tried to get in contact with her, adding that the “hardest thing” in that situation is not knowing what will happen next.
“I knew exactly what they were going through because my family was on the other end of it trying to get in contact with me whenever I was hiding, and I desperately wanted my phone and wanted to tell them that I love them,” she said of arriving at the scene of Monday’s shooting in the Green Hills area.
Bukovac later thanked everyone for “all the support” she’s received after sharing her story amid coverage of the Nashville shootings. According to Bukovac, she thinks of the 2010 shooting “often” and simply wants others in this all-too-common situation to know there are others out there who have been through the same harrowing experience.
“I also want to discuss solutions,” she said in a tweet. “As a mom, I am worried for the future.”
On Feb. 5, 2010—the date mentioned in Bukovac’s tweet—a 14-year-old opened fire at Discovery Middle School in Madison, Alabama and killed another 14-year-old student, identified as Todd Brown.
On Monday evening, after previously confirming that a total of three children and three adults had been killed by a 28-year-old shooter at the Covenant School in Nashville, local police released the identities of the victims:
- Evelyn Dieckhaus, age 9
- Hallie Scruggs, age 9
- William Kinney, age 9
- Cynthia Peak, age 61
- Katherine Koonce, age 60
- Mike Hill, age 61
The shooter, identified as Audrey Hale, was shot and killed by police. The investigation remains ongoing.