Ten years later, one unshakeable certainty resonates with Saturday’s anniversary of the Santana High School shooting.
Some wounds never close.
On Mar. 5, 2001, 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams took an Arminius .22 caliber revolver from his father’s locked gun cabinet and brought it to the Santee school. Shortly after 9 a.m. on a Monday, he killed Bryan Zuckor, 14, Randy Gordon, 17, and injured 11 students and two school supervisors.
On Friday, Lt. Christine Robbins stood stoically outside the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office building in Santee.
She has been with the department for 24 years.
Asked to relive that day may be among her most difficult assignments.
She remembers the dispatch's report of a shooting at the East San Diego campus and the tension and excitement in the responding voices.
The drive to the school, she cannot remember, but she remembers the crowd of students flooding from the school when she arrived.
She remembers setting up a perimeter as other officers stormed the bathroom from which Williams loaded and fired, reloaded and fired, reloaded and fired.
She remembers the phone call to the chaplain, knowing two students were deceased.
She remembers the horrified faces of parents whose children, she knew, had been shot.
She remembers the questions of department deputies to which she had no answer.
“They came up to me and they said, 'Do you know if my kid is OK?' And I couldn't answer them,” said Robbins, fighting back tears. “I said, 'I don't know.' That was very sad.”
All day, Robbins had her own questions.
She asked them to herself at midnight during a quiet, car ride home.
What just happened? Why did that ever to happen?
“It was so senseless,” Robbins said. “I think what even rests on my mind a little bit more, is as a parent and looking forward to someday having grandchildren, I have to wonder, 'What are my kids going to face? What are my grandkids going to face?'
“That's what's scary, because after going through it and after seeing the travesty of the kids and of the parents and having a child myself, it's like your hands are tied, and you feel really bad for those parents.”
On Saturday, the public paid respect to those affected by the shooting.
A crowd met at noon at the concrete sign at the front of the campus and discussed what seemed like a shared nightmare.
Ten years later, there is one more unshakeable certainty with the shooting’s anniversary.
It should never have happened, and it doesn’t ever have to happen again.
“There are red flags that are thrown out, and when those red flags come to the surface, law enforcement needs to be involved,” Robbins said. “You don’t need to worry about telling on somebody or ratting somebody out or snitching somebody off. You have to be the one to come forward, and that’s the right thing to do.
“When those people do come forward and we do (stop) something from happening, those people are the heroes for bringing that to our attention because that’s hard to do, especially for adolescents.”