STOCKTON - It was 25 years ago Friday that a madman sprayed a Stockton schoolyard with gunfire from an assault weapon, killing five children and injuring 29 others. A teacher was also shot that day at Cleveland Elementary School.
Six teachers who were there that day and are now retired are as busy as ever, working in the group called Cleveland School Remembers. Their goal is political involvement to improve background checks and weapons purchases, and a better awareness of mental health disorders.
"Something has to be done and usually it's on the grassroots level," said group member Judy Weldon. "The mental health issues, public safety, lots of variables in gun violence. We can't address every single one, but we'll try and work on what we can do."
Ironically, it wasn't the shooting they experienced a quarter century ago that brought the group together. It was the 20 school children killed just over a year ago in Connecticut.
"Individually, we were having trouble dealing with the news and information coming out about the incident about Sandy Hook. It was the one (shooting) most like what happened to us. Newtown was so much like what happened to us," said Adriene Egeland.
The women meet every week to discuss their strategies for making a difference with legislators. They said post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common ailment with them, while loud and sudden noises still startle them.
Patrick Purdy was the gunman that day in Stockton. He fired more than a hundred rounds at the playground of children. Purdy then killed himself at the scene, and left no note or journal explaining his motivation.