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NIU Shootings Families Remember

In this Jan. 31 photo, Joe and Laurel Dubowski hold a photo of their daughter Gayle at their home in Carol Stream. Gayle was killed 10 years ago during the Valentines Day shooting at Northern Illinois University. Families affected by the 2008 NIU shooting that killed five and injured 21 are remembering their loved ones 10 years later. On Wednesday, parents, students, first responders, school officials and others are planning to gather in honor of the victims. 

MARK BLACK, DAILY HERALD VIA AP

DEKALB — Families are remembering their loved ones 10 years after a shooting Northern Illinois University shooting that killed five and injured 21.

Students Gayle Dubowski, 20; Catalina Garcia, 20; Daniel Parmenter, 20; Julianna Gehant, 32; and Ryanne Mace, 19, were killed Feb. 14, 2008 when a gunman entered an ocean sciences class and began shooting, The Daily Herald reported.

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NIU Shootings Families Remember

In this Feb. 6 photo, former Illinois State University student Maria Christiansen touches some of the remaining scars on her neck, at her home in Cortland, from when she was shot and nearly killed in a 2008 shooting at NIU Feb. 14, 2008. 

University spokesman Joe King said since the deaths of the students, more than 1,800 people have donated more than $745,000 to The Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship fund has allowed the university to award $4,000 each to 50 students in the names of the slain students.

Dubowski's parents, Joe and Laurel, said they've relived the sadness of losing their daughter after every mass shooting in the past decade. The couple said they found it difficult but eventually worked through their anger to forgive the gunman.

"By being angry and bitter, you're not hurting anyone but yourself," said Joe, 61.

Maria Christiansen, who was critically injured during the shooting, is now an NIU police officer.

"I didn't know I had been shot until I started feeling the blood, tasting it. I thought I was going to die because it was so hard to breathe," said Christiansen, recalling the shooting.

She was among the first students targeted by the shooter in NIU's Cole Hall.

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NIU Shootings Families Remember

In this Feb. 6 photo, former Illinois State University student Maria Christiansen sits with her son Sebastian, 2, in their home in Cortland. She was shot and nearly killed in a 2008 shooting at NIU Feb. 14, 2008. Christiansen recovered from her wounds and is now a police officer on the campus. Families affected by the shooting that killed five and injured 21 are remembering their loved ones 10 years later. 

Christiansen, who had wanted to be a police officer since she was 13, said the shooting "made me who I am."

This week, survivors, parents, students, first responders, school officials and others are planning to gather in honor of the victims.

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