Heath High School Shooting Survivor Reacts to the Loss in Marshall County

Jan 24, 2018

Missy Jenkins Smith speaking at a memorial service in December, 20 years after the 1997 Heath High School shooting.
Credit Nicole Erwin, WKMS

A survivor of the 1997 Heath High School shooting in Paducah said she never thought another shooting would happen in the same community.

Paducah is about 20 miles from the Marshall County High School shooting on Tuesday.

More than 20 years ago, Missy Jenkins Smith spent a week in the ICU after a shooter opened fire on his fellow classmates, killing three students. Smith is now a counselor for the Calloway County Alternative Instructional Facility.

Smith said owner responsibility is “extremely important” when it comes to ensuring guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.

 

“If you’re going to have something that’s so powerful and others who could get a hold of it, I mean, you’re suffering the consequences of having to deal with the fact that you’ve contributed in some form or fashion to what happened,” said Smith.

Smith said there will be a time and place to address issues regarding school safety and gun laws. For now, she said, her main focus is to help victims and families heal. She encouraged people to show support by sending letters.

Smith said sending letters is one of the best things people can do to help victims heal.

“I received in one day 600 letters and 45 packages and that’s definitely what kind of kept me going,” said Smith. “It was almost like I was being reminded that I went through something and people weren't forgetting me and I wasn’t on my own.”

Smith said she still has those letters 20 years later.