Survivor of Mass Shooting on Healing Process

(NECN: Ally Donnelly) - It was one of the worst mass shootings in America and it offers us lessons on the tragedy in Tucson and the road to healing. A gunman opening fire inside a Massachusetts technology company more than ten years ago. Seven people were killed.

As the horrific shooting in Tucson, Arizona unfolds...most of us have no idea what the families of the victims or the survivors are going through.
Shirley Singleton does.

She said, "Some people are fearful, because I saw fear, some people are defiant. They want to get the perpetrator and get their anger out, some people recede into themselves..."

Singleton is the co-founder and CEO of Edgewater Technology in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Ten years ago, a disgruntled employee guzzled liquor, took prescription drugs and ran through the company's hallways gunning down employees. He killed seven people. "People came and were crying and hysterical and scared and didn't know what to do," Singleton said.

57 year old Singleton had stepped out of the office for 20 minutes when the rampage started. But she says Michael McDermott had a hit list and she was on it. In the aftermath -- and to this day -- she shares the same fears as the rest of her employees.

"Is he going to get out? Is he gonna get out of prison? Is he going to break out is he going to get the rest of us?" she said. In the weeks after the shootings emotions were raw. The company was inundated with hordes of media and many well-meaning people trying to show kindness.

"Someone delivered us a bunch of balloons to make us feel better and one of the balloons popped and then everyone dove for under their desks....some of them could smell smoke again," Singleton said.

In the decade since the shooting...Singleton hasn't given any extensive interviews about that horrible day. She says every time there's a shooting or workplace violence she gets the media calls, but she spoke to us now because -- she says -- she wants to set the record straight that Edgewater Technology is vibrant and flourishing -- that it is not the tragedy company.

"Yes we have this horrific experience that in effect defines our history," Singleton said, "but I think there's a lot to be said that we're here, we've grown by over 50 million dollars over the years...and I think that really was our goal that we weren't going to let our tragedy take us down.

After the shooting, Edgewater planted a cherry tree outside the offices where they still work. Each December employees weave carnations in the branches in honor of the seven lost. "We miss them...we'll never forget them," Singleton said. It's a healing process barely begun in Tucson.

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