Minnesota Mass Shooting Survivor Advocates for Crime Victims


John Souter, 66, who was badly wounded in a mass shooting at Minneapolis’ Accent Signage in 2012, tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune that, “I would like to get in front of Congress and tell them what this is like, and challenge them.” Souter credits his survival to the Minneapolis police and the unarmed firefighters who rushed into peril that day. Without their courage and their training, he said, “I would not be here. They most likely saved my life, getting me to hospital so quickly.” (The shooter, who was in Souter’s office because he was about to be fired, was among seven fatalities that day.) Now retired, Souter has a heightened sense of anxiety that keeps him on edge, ready to react, unable to relax. He's been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress. “I'm still impacted by loud noises. I don't like crowds. I don't like being in crowded places. I don't like driving on the interstate in traffic,” he said. He copes with help from counseling, anti-anxiety medications, and long daily walks.

He consults with the police, advising them as they plan how they will react to the next active shooter situation. He has become an advocate for the rights of victims of gun violence. He's reached out to other wounded survivors from places like Aurora, Co., and Virginia Tech University, and heard horror stories of bankruptcy and broken marriages and lingering post-traumatic stress. He's met with President Obama and has lobbied Congress to ensure that more of the $12 billion-plus federal Crime Victims Fund — collected from federal court fines, penalties and forfeitures — actually reaches victims of crime. He's backing legislation offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), that would block Congress from dipping into the multibillion-dollar fund.

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