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Santana High shooting survivor reflects on the enduring impact

Santana High shooting survivor reflects on the enduring impact
Posted at 4:49 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 20:15:42-04

SANTEE, Calif. (KGTV) - In the wake of the tragic events in Texas, the survivor of a school shooting at Santana High more than two decades ago is sharing her story.

“I'm devastated. It honestly brings me to tears … Anytime another incident like this happens, it puts me right back through that,” said Rachel Maurice.

When Maurice learned of the school shooting in Texas, her heart sank.

“All these years later, it keeps happening. It’s just devastating to know there are other children out there, even younger than we were, having to go through this,” said Maurice.

Maurice sent ABC 10News a photo of her, at age 16, taken by her best friend, 17-year-old Randy Gordon.

Weeks later on March 5, 2001, at Santana High, her school turned into a war zone. A fellow classmate fired dozens of rounds, striking 15 and killing two.

“He (Randy) was still trying to get away, but when I saw him fall over, that’s when I knew for sure that he had been hit,” said Maurice.

Rachel was in the quad, when she saw her friend Randy killed. Also killed was 14-year-old Bryan Zuckor.

In the aftermath, Santana High students struggled to cope. Pastor Patty Steele and her pastor husband ministered to hundreds at the school after the shooting.

"As time went on, there was more grief, more anger … Why did he do this? It was a very emotional experience for everybody,” said Steele.

Rachel also felt anger, along with fear and guilt for not being able to save her friend. She experienced night terrors for years.

“I've lived my entire life seeing therapists … struggling with this. The thing I would want others to understand is the long-term impact, that it's with us forever,” said Steele.

Rachel says her heart breaks knowing the pain in store for so many families in Texas. She believes it's past overdue for both common sense gun laws and more measures aimed at mental health.

“We must put our differences aside and really decide as a society that we are better than these circumstances,” said Maurice.

Michelle Zuckor, Bryan Zuckor's mother, issued the following statement:

"I am devastated to hear what happened in Texas. There is nothing anyone can say to make them feel better, even though they know everyone is praying and thinking of them. Donations don't heal the pain. Words don't heal the pain. There is nothing anybody can say to make them feel better at this time. When you're a grieving parent your mind is focused on one thing: your child that you won't ever do things with again. To the parents who lost their children yesterday: don't drown your sorrows with alcohol or drugs. You have to feel the pain in order to release the pain. Don't hold back your tears is what I learned in the years since losing Bryan in 2001. Cry your heart out. Then do what you need to do until the next wave of feelings. Healing takes time and therapy. I remember I was numb for 3 months after Bryan was killed. I couldn't feel a thing and only thought of Bryan. I still do and my heart goes out to those parents.”

Mari Gordon-Rayborn, Randy Gordon's mother, released the following statement:

"I don't know what to say. My heart and my soul is with those families in Texas. It is the hardest thing to go through, but faith and being grateful for the time I had with my son helped me through the years since he was killed. I miss him every day but I hold onto the memories that I would not have if he was never part of my life. Every day I make sure to help someone else in some small way to make their life better and I live my life every day making sure I don't hurt someone else in any way because I know how precious every moment is. You are not alone in your grief, I'm here feeling your pain and missing my son Randy today."