Kristina Anderson Bio-Kristina Anderson Wiki
When a gunman burst into Kristina Anderson’s French class at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, and began firing, ice-cold terror surged through the college sophomore’s body as she realized what was happening.
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When a gunman burst into Kristina Anderson’s French class at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, and began firing, ice-cold terror surged through the college sophomore’s body as she realized what was happening. Relying on pure instinct, she crouched on the floor and put her stomach on the seat of her one-piece desk with her back to the shooter as he opened fire into the classroom. The 11 minutes that followed were the worst of her life. “It was so loud and because it was so violent, there were a lot of screams,” she recalls of the massacre on the Blacksburg, Va., campus, which killed 32 people and wounded 17 more, including Anderson.
She was shot three times, including twice in her back. “I was in shock and in a lot of pain, Like so many others, especially 15 years ago, Anderson had never been trained on what to do in an active shooting. We were all unprepared,” she says. Ever since that horrific day, Anderson, now 34 and a married mother of two, has dedicated her time to preventing other shootings.
In 2007, Anderson started The Koshka Foundation for Safe Schools, which is focused on violence prevention, especially in schools and colleges. We help communities that are working on safety preparedness and workplace violence plans,” she says. “Our main mission is to advocate for the creation of threat assessment and management teams. Made up of school resource officers, mental health counselors, teachers, coaches, and others, members of the teams “look at incoming potential threats from students, employees, community members and parents,” she says.”They try to evaluate the threat, and then they put a plan in place to manage it and make sure that no one commits harm or commits suicide or commits a mass shooting.”
The foundation, which provides training for this, she says, “works as a bridge between law enforcement and safety leaders to help them communicate their messages to parents, students, and teachers on the importance of having preparedness plans, being aware of suspicious behaviors and what to report.”
Report the Warning Signs
Speakers from the foundation talk about how to spot the warning signs of a potential shooter, including talking about wanting to hurt others or commit a mass shooting, she says. I look back at all of the signs and opportunities that were not taken advantage of with our own shooter,” she says. Seung-Hui Cho, 23, who died by suicide on the day of the attack, had issues in high school and acted strangely at Virginia Tech, she says. These dots weren’t connected,” she says. “We had teachers talking, we had law enforcement that knew a little bit but not enough to act or do anything from their perspective.”
With the foundation, “we try to explain why prevention is possible.”
That starts with making students and adults alike comfortable with sharing information they’ve learned about a potentially violent situation. We often say the best time to share information or report something is when you have that feeling of something’s not right,” she says. “You’re not sure what it is, but it’s not right. And one message I try to tell students and parents and employees in professional settings is, ‘It’s not your job to figure out what the issue is. It’s not your job to triage it or to solve it.'”
She continues: “It’s very likely that a threat assessment team or security or safety stakeholder may already know about the situation. Your job is to pass it along. And it’s their job to protect everyone’s confidentiality so that the student or whoever you’re reporting on will never know who it was that shared that.”If you are concerned about someone’s behavior, tell a trusted person of authority such as a teacher, a principal, a school resource officer, or a parent, she says.
“One issue we come across in schools is that if you don’t have a trusted person, that’s the first problem,” she says. The foundation also works to make sure that if an individual reports something, “there actually is a place that information is being taken to and that it’s not going to go in a black hole,” she says.
Speakers brought in by the foundation to speak at schools, colleges and workplaces include people who have lived through some of these active shooter events firsthand they bring home this message that these events can happen, that we can prevent them — and that you can survive and recover if it happens,” she says. The foundation also offers training in personal preparedness, “the individual’s role in violence prevention and personal safety planning,” according to the Koshka Foundation website.
Don’t second guess yourself,” she says. “If someone is doing something suspicious or invading your space, or having an argument near you, trust your instincts. Get away from there. Just leave.”Know where the exits are when you are out in public, she says. Since every situation is so different.
Preparing for the Anniversary of the Shooting
To cope with the anniversary of the day Anderson’s world turned dark, she says she spends time with her family and eases up on her schedule. I’ll do something relaxing. Go for a walk outside, get coffee. The main thing I’ve learned not to do is to put any pressure on myself from a work perspective. With the foundation, I give a lot of presentations. I don’t travel that week of the anniversary. I try not to do anything too time-consuming,” she says, noting that it’s an emotional time. Anderson says she is beyond grateful that she survived and was able to go on and do the work she is doing to help others. In all her talks, she says, “I always mention the students and my professor — the 12 people who passed away in my classroom,” she says. “We show their names. I want to make sure that this event is never forgotten.”