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Connecticut Shooting Brings Back Painful Memories For Stockton First Responder

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STOCKTON (CBS13) – Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut brought back painful memories of a shooting at Cleveland Elementary in Stockton back in 1989.

Many of the school’s parents knew what happened Friday in the small town of Newtown, Conn., where 20 children were killed by a 20-year-old gunman, but likely don’t know what happened right at their own school more than two decades ago.

But for those who were there, it’s something they’ll never forget.

“Unbelievable is not a good enough word for it,” retired firefighter Marty Galindo said.

Friday’s tragedy brought Galindo immediately back to January 1989.

“One dead, and then two dead, three dead, children, and it just kept happening in that short period of time,” he recalled.

Dressed in camouflage, 24-year-old Patrick Purdy pulled up to Cleveland Elementary. set his station wagon on fire as a diversion and took aim with a semiautomatic rifle, killing five children on the playground and wounding 30 more before killing himself.

A white supremacist, Purdy took aim at Asian-American children.

For Galindo, Friday’s awful event was a nasty reminder.

“It’s like a kick in the gut again, all over again,” he said. “The memory, and I’m sitting here seeing it in the back of my mind, is the shoes.”

But since that tragedy, one of the first mass school shootings in the U.S., there have been many more.

“This is not just horrible, this is a violent culture. Something is happening here that you lose control of,” he said.

For current Cleveland parents, it’s also eerie.

“It’s kind of scary because knowing that you have kids that go there, you never know what could happen,” Priscilla Atuna said.

Or what could happen again.

More than 20 years later, Galindo is still waiting for a way to end school violence. He fears the wait will only last longer.

“Do whatever has to be done to protect the innocence of our kids,” he said.

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