School Shooting Victim Shares Story to Prevent Bullying

Posted at: 10/15/2013 4:47 PM
Updated at: 10/16/2013 5:37 AM
By: Laurie Stribling

Bullying has been a hot topic in recent years, but the problem is nothing new. It's blamed for one of Minnesota's first school shootings and the Grand Rapids victim is sharing his story to combat the problem.

"I was apparently the first Minnesota school shooting victim which happened October 5, 1966," Kevin Roth said.

Roth shared his story Tuesday with Grand Rapids High School students. Decades later, Roth still gets emotional when he talks about the shooting.

"Seeing the gun, everyone scattered," Roth said. "I was like a deer in the headlights. I froze and he shot me."

The 15-year-old shooter also shot Grand Rapids Administrator Forrest Willey. Willey died, but Roth lives to share his story.

"That shooting was the result of a young man who was having some difficulties in life," Roth said. "The newspaper said he was teased."

To prevent future tragedies, Roth is back at Grand Rapids High School trying to raise awareness about bullying.

"It was really powerful to hear what he had to say about this," senior Andy Soderberg said.

Soderberg was just one student moved and shocked by the message.

"It was really crazy to hear that a shooting happened in the town of Grand Rapids because I imagine our town would be a very safe town," Soderberg said.

"It's just so shocking that the first one in Minnesota happened here," senior Meaghan Casey said. "It brings you down to earth and makes you realize that it really does happen anywhere."

Casey even started a petition asking lawmakers for stricter anti-bullying legislation.

"Just because we have a law, doesn't mean it's doing all that much," Casey said.

As for Roth, he's just urging students to speak up.

"Communicate; don't hold it inside you," Roth said. "I don't want something like this happening to your family...let's be proactive not reactive."

Money was raised by Bullying - Be the Solution to bring Roth to Grand Rapids. Roth will be speaking at several different places over the next few days.

Roth will be at Zion Lutheran Church Tuesday night for a spaghetti fundraiser from 4 to 7 p.m.

Roth will speak at Nashwauk-Keewatin and Greenway schools Wednesday. He will also speak to interested community members Wednesday night at the Reif Center at Grand Rapids High School from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Roth will speak at Ground Floor Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.

All money raised will help fund the memorial for Willey and a scholarship program.

You can also contribute to the cause by buying t-shirts from T & T designs.

For more information, check out the Bullying - Be The Solution Facebook page.