UCC shooting through the eyes of Lane officers

After the shooting at Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, 2015 that left eight students dead and the campus in chaos, Public Safety officers from Lane were sent to help keep UCC safe.

“Being down at UCC was an honor,” Officer Valeri Miller said. “To be able to help the staff and students feel safe and secure again was a humble reminder why I do what I do as an officer. It’s been my goal to do what I need to do for the community — to ensure a safe environment and help those in need.”

In a recent edition of the Lane Public Safety Department’s newsletter, officers had the opportunity to express their experiences while aiding UCC in active patrol.

“However tragic, UCC and the surrounding community came together in what is an example of triumph in the sense of community,” Corporal Ryan Sager expressed in the newsletter. “I was rewarded with the opportunity to take part in assisting this community. It was a humbling experience to say the least.”

Almost all of the officers expressed how influential it was being able to talk to those affected by the events at UCC.

“The stories they told painted a picture in my head with every word they spoke. Each story was so descriptive,” Miller said. “One student told me he instructed the students to pile tables in front of the door and to stay out of the way of the window. He said he went through his bag and encouraged others to pull out anything they could make a weapon out of. He said they sat there with scissors in their hands ready to attack [the shooter] if he came in the room. I couldn’t help the tears in my eyes listening to stories like this.”

“I anticipated hatred and intolerance of anybody representing public safety and law enforcement, for failing to protect them in a time of need,” Chantal Thomas, Lane Public Safety sergeant, said. “The very thought of this broke my heart, as since the first day I put on a uniform and badge, I only wanted to do good, to protect those in need, to be the voice of reason, to be the one who made things better. I had long ago decided that I could lay down my life for another if the need arose.”