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NewsChannel 5 (Nashville, Tenn.) interviewOctober 2, 2008
For video of this story, visit http://www.newschannel5.com/global/story.asp?s=9116465
Shooting Victim, Author Talks About Confronting Attacker
NewsChannel 5 reporter/anchor Amy Watson interviews Smith in 2007 before the tenth anniversary of the school shooting.
PADUCAH, Ky. - A survivor of a school shooting that happened nearly 11 years ago shares details about the ordeal and how she confronted the attacker in her new book.
Missy Jenkins Smith was a student at Heath High School in 1997 when fellow student Michael Carneal pulled out a shotgun and started firing. He killed three students and wounded five others including Smith, who was paralyzed from the chest down.
But she is not without hope.
It took her a decade to find the courage to meet the shooter face to face. In her book, "I Choose To Be Happy," she shares the experience in a chapter near the end of the book.
"I would say he was a friend," she said in an interview with NewsChannel 5 in November 2007, before the tenth anniversary of the shooting.
She met with him face to face in prison for the first time last summer.
"It was very, very emotional," said Smith, a mother and wife.
In the book, she said, her heart was racing when she first met him.
"' I started the meeting with a very basic question: Why did you agree to meet with me? He said he felt that is was something he owed me, and that it was something that would emotionally be good for all of us,'" she wrote.
In the book, she wrote that tears appeared in his eyes during their conversation but he didn't cry.
"Being angry about the whole situation wasn't going to make anything different. It wasn't going to make me walk again, for one thing. Why be angry? I wanted to move on with my life. I was happy that I was alive. There was a chance I could have died," she said.
"'I asked him why he did it, and if it was because he was bullied. He said there was really no easy answer. Bullying may have been a part of it, he said,'" she wrote.
"He brought a gun to school for respect so that they would see he is somebody who could, I don't know, do something like that, "she told NewsChannel 5 reporter/anchor Amy Watson.
Smith asked him if there was anything he wanted her to say when she talked to people.
"We talked for about two hours," she said.
"'He had two simple responses: Talk to somebody if you're having problems, and understand how much a kind word can mean to someone,'" she wrote.
Smith said there will never be closure for her, but that visit was the closest she'll ever come.
Her book focuses on forgiveness and offers advice to help people make the most of each day. Smith's book was released Wednesday. Missy Jenkins Smith will attend the Southern Book Festival, which takes place Oct. 10-12 in downtown Nashville. She will be at the festival on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12.