The police chief at Northern Illinois University replays the chaos over and over in his mind: sprinting, pistol in hand and reading glasses still on, through waves of screaming students at a lecture hall. Donald Grady remembers kneeling over the wounded and dying as the gunman’s body lay on stage, dead of a gunshot wound. And he still wonders weeks later: Could he have done more to prevent the deaths of five students when a former student opened fire in the crowded hall on Valentine’s Day?
“I know intuitively there’s nothing I could have done to protect them,” he told The Associated Press. “But it doesn’t change the fact that, inside, I feel like I wanted to be able to do something.” Grady has SWAT team training and has advised governments and militaries in war-torn countries, but the shooting, he said, was the “ugliest” test of his career. And it was one that reinforced and, in some ways, softened the gruff persona that had sometimes caused him trouble.