Community Gathers With Questions and Memories Two Days After Deadly School Shooting

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

A 15-year-old student is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Principal John Klang. A second tragedy struck the small community the same day of the shooting at Weston High School in Cazenovia. A 16-year-old student died in traffic crash on his way to class.
On Sunday, parents, staff and students gathered to share their questions and their memories of the two men, lost but still very much loved.
"Within five minutes, although he gave up his life to do it, the principal, John Klang, had disarmed and subdued the student. It was over," Weston Superintendent Terry Milfred says.
But the grieving was about to start.
"We just heard these little pops, but they didn't even sound real, thought it was a cap gun or something," student Jessica Seep says.
It was something that forever changed the Weston School Community -- a principal shot dead inside the high school entrance. The incident lasted minutes, but the surreal feeling still resonates.
"You just can't get it out of your mind. It's always gonna be there," Seep says.
But Seep finds comfort in her friends.
"We just don't want to leave each other," she says.
Together, they leave messages for another departed friend, Erik Fichtel. Fichtel, known for his talent on the football field and sense of sarcasm off of it, died in a car crash minutes before Friday's shooting.
"I said, 'hey, prince charming, your smile lit up my day. Save me a spot in heaven," Seep says of her message on a poster in memory of Fichtel.
Others remember John Klang, as a principal and fellow classmate a generation ago.
"He was always kind. He was always sweet," one woman says.
... A real hero in the words of one of his students ...
"She really loved John as a principal, so she wrote Mr. Klang is a hero. He did a lot for her," Alan Roessler says of his daughter.
Weston's Superintendent Terry Milfred is proud of what John Klang did, especially in his final moments.
"Educators give their lives to students every day. John did it in one day," Milfred says.
He also says students will see changes in the days to come.
"When we pulled up, she said I don't want to go to the high school," a parent says of his 12-year-old, "This will help her ease back into things, get her back into a routine."
Parents, staff and students met with counselors to help them cope emotionally while school leaders met with experts to improve school security.
"There will be people there to greet them. Again, we're trying to blend an educational environment with safety," Milfred says.
Sunday's meeting was closed to the media. Another session for information and counseling is scheduled for Monday, beginning at nine o'clock at the school complex.
Classes will resume after the funerals.
The service for Erik Fichtel is scheduled for 11 o'clock Tuesday morning at Saint Boniface Catholic Church in Lime Ridge.
Weston High School will host John Klang's funeral service at 11 o'clock on Wednesday morning in the gymnasium.

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