A television reporter covering the school shooting in Nashville elementary school has described how she is herself a school shooting survivor and offered advice for the parents of children who “witness the unthinkable”.
Joylyn Bukovac, a reporter for WSM4 in Nashville, Tennessee, disclosed the detail during her live cross from outside Covenant School, where three adults and three children were killed on Monday.
The shooter – a 28-year-old local resident named as Audrey Elizabeth Hale who was armed with two assault rifles and a handgun – was killed by police.
Bukovac described how she had been in eighth grade and standing in a hallway when a shooter had opened fire at her school in 2010. “I can’t even describe the shock. I wasn’t really ready to talk about it for two years, really,” she said. “This is something that hits very close to home for me. A lot of this is really bringing out tough memories for me.”
Bukovac went on to explain: “My biggest advice for all the families is really … just be very gentle with them [the children] and let them talk when they’re ready because the shock they’re going to be feeling on coming home is going to be unfathomable.
“Just give them some time. If they’re not ready to talk, don’t be overly concerned. Everyone copes in their own way. So just really, just be there for them now, open up that line of communication.”
Bukovac said she had checked the statistics and found there had been over 380 school shootings since Columbine, including her own. There have been 288 in the US since January 2009.
Social media users noted that it was a sign of how normalised these incidents had become when a survivor of an earlier school shooting was now old enough to report on an active school shooting happening to others.
Later, on social media, Bukovac thanked users who sent messages of support after sharing her story.
“I don’t talk about it much, but I think what happened on February 5, 2010 often. I just want people to know they aren’t alone,” she said. “I also want to discuss solutions. As a mom, I am worried for the future.”
Bukovac was not the only shooting survivor nearby.
Ashbey Beasley from Illinois was visiting her sister-in-law in Nashville at the time of Monday’s attack and stood in front of the cameras at the end of a police press conference to reveal she and her son had survived a mass shooting in July where a gunman opened fire on a 4 July parade, killing seven people.
“Aren’t you guys tired of covering this? Aren’t you tired of having to cover all of these mass shootings?” she told the media. “How is this still happening?”
Beasley, who has since joined a gun violence prevention group, was planning to have lunch with a friend when she heard about the Covenant School shooting.
“My heart broke. This is where we’re at, we have children living through multiple mass shooting incidences, what are we doing?” she said.
Bukovac’s experience was reminiscent of the moment in 2019 when Jess Arnold, a television reporter for WUSA9, stopped a family with an eight-year-old girl, Faris Nunn, to ask their thoughts about a shooting that had taken place during a baseball match at Nationals Park the night before.
“It was my second shooting, so I was kind of prepared,” Nunn said.