Well before his murderous rampage at Northern Illinois University, Steven Kazmierczak described himself as a victim who had overcome hard times. In graduate school applications, reviewed by the Chicago Tribune, Kazmierczak wrote that his own mental-health struggles would one day enable him to help others–a vision that imploded Feb. 14 in one of the deadliest campus shootings in U.S. history. The essays offer chilling insight into the mental-health troubles of the 27-year-old graduate student who fatally shot five students at Northern Illinois University, wounded 16 others and then killed himself.
The school applications, accessed under the Freedom of Information Act, show an intelligent man determined to reinvent himself after a troubled adolescence. They relate the alienation he felt as a high school student, his parents’ decision to place him in a group home, and the help he got from an inspirational social worker. His father, Robert, told the Tribune Friday that the essays are both accurate and sincere. He said the family sought help for his son’s mental illness by putting him in a group home. Steven Kazmierczak wrote: “I aspire to work with the mentally ill within the criminal justice system, a group home setting, or for a non-profit organization that caters to the needs of those in society who need guidance and direction, like I did so many year [sic] ago.”