Five diverse paths converged in lecture hall
One was a loyal fraternity brother, another an only child from a suburban family. One was a first-generation American, another a soldier returning for an education. A fifth was a quiet sophomore who liked to sing and listen to music.
They had different majors, interests, backgrounds and life experiences. But the five victims of Thursday's rampage shared a common goal at Northern Illinois University -- to improve themselves and stay close to home. In doing so, the group was the face of NIU's student body: a cross-section of Chicagoland residents in search of an expedient and affordable path to a better life.
Their varied paths converged in the front rows of an introduction to oceanography lecture. Their shared dreams -- and those of their families and friends -- were shattered in the final minutes of class. As the instructor finished a presentation on the various types of sea rocks, former student Steven Kazmierczak mounted the stage and fatally shot five and wounded many more before taking his own life.
Friday morning, police confirmed the names of those slain (from left): Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; Julianna Gehant, 32, of Mendota; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream and Dan Parmenter, 20, of Elmhurst. Several more were still fighting for their lives.