California

Survivors Remember: It’s Been 18 Years Since the Santana High School Shooting

The school shooting in Santee took the lives of two students and injured 13 people

Nick Cincotta remembers March 5, 2001 like it was yesterday.

It’s been 18 years since the Santana High School shooting in Santee. A 15-year-old killed two classmates and wounded 13 people.

“A classmate said, ‘somebody has a gun and shots have been fired,’” recalled Cincotta. His class was able to safely evacuate to a nearby shopping center.

But the nightmare was not over yet for Cincotta. His sister was on campus, in the same class as the gunman. For hours, in a time just before widespread cell phone use, Cincotta could not get a hold of her.

“As I was leaving campus to safety, I saw my dad heading towards the danger. He was with the fire department at the time,” said Cincotta. “It was a family affair that day.”

Cincotta’s sister and father were safe.

Cincotta is now a teacher at a nearby school. He worries that what happened at Santana High School could happen to his students.

“If someone came in the back way, we would be the first classroom they could get at,” said Cincotta. “So it makes me wonder what I would do for my students.”

That’s why he said talking about the shooting helps raise awareness of what to do in an unimaginable situation.

The gunman is serving life in state prison and is eligible for parole in 2051. In December, he petitioned the governor of California to commute his sentence.

Cincotta said he does not want him out on the streets.  

“It’s still sublime,” said Cincotta. “It still makes me emotional talking about it. If he was released, it would be painful and scary for the survivors.”

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