MARYSVILLE, Wash. — The school resource officer who helped to evacuate students during the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting in 2014 described the Uvalde, Texas school massacre as an “absolute gut punch.”
For Chris Sutherland, the tragedy in Texas is a devastating case of deja vu.
“I’ve never been hit by Mike Tyson, but I think that’s what it feels like in my stomach and my face (after the Texas massacre),” he told KIRO 7 News.
Sutherland was the school resource officer at Marysville Pilchuck High School on October 24, 2014 — the day a student opened fire in the school’s cafeteria, killing four students.
During the crisis, Sutherland led students to safety and was credited with saving lives in the process.
As a result, he said he knows all too well what Uvalde’s emergency workers are going through.
“As police officers … (memories of the carnage) will never leave their brain,” he noted. “They will never get rid of it.”
Sutherland added that it took years for him to fully accept everything that he witnessed and experienced.
Nearly five years after the tragedy, he said he finally accepted help, spending more than a month in a rehabilitation center for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Following the tragedy in Texas, Sutherland said Uvalde’s first responders should not hesitate in seeking help for their overall mental health.
“As time progressed, (the trauma) just eats at you. You cannot do it yourself,” he said.
Sutherland was eventually named Washington’s “School Resource Officer of the Year.”
As incredible acts of heroism come in from Uvalde, he said his fellow emergency workers should be commended.
“I wish we could go and sprinkle fairy dust on people where (mass shootings) happen and make it go away … but you can’t,” he admitted.
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