Former Buffalo Principal Speaks About '98 Shooting | News
BUFFALO, NY - The history of the Buffalo Public School System is not devoid of school shootings. The district has never seen anything like what's happened in Connecticut, but about 14 years ago it did experience gun violence at P.S. 18 in Buffalo.
Paul Williams was the principal of the school at the time.
"Shock, you really don't believe it's happening and you don't believe you've seen something with your own eyes, then you know something horrible has happened," he said.
In May of 1998, a former Erie County Sheriff deputy walked into the school before the opening bell. The shooter was 37-year-old Juan Roman. He gunned down his wife, who was a teacher there. Roman also shot a teacher's aide, who was in the crossfire. Roman left the gun outside the school and was caught minutes later.
"You could hear the shots, throughout the whole building, there were multiple shots and you could smell the gunpowder as it drifted through," said Williams.
The school, which had five to 14-year-olds went into lock down. The city watched in horror. Williams says he remembers witnessing the shooter once the shots stopped.
"I did, I saw him coming out of the office with the gun in his hand and exciting the building," he said, and that it felt like terror, "things happen real fast, you're afraid."
Williams says he can't imagine what it's like to be connected to Friday's horrific shooting in Connecticut. He feels sympathy for the families who have lost loved ones.
"Some of the promising futures that these kids will have or could've had, the Christmas they're not going to see, it's terrible," he said.
Of course all the victims will be missed. Williams says he was traumatized after the shooting happened in 1998. He thinks it'll be a long time to recover for the families who've been impacted. He hopes grief counseling will help families that are mourning.