Normally, people would think prisoners will never be the same again even if they were to be let free after years of imprisonment. Well, it is absolutely true because being captured and put away from society and family can do things mentally that cannot be fixed or shaken easily, even if one wanted to. 14 years ago a 16-year-old high school student named Jon Romano was captured as the accused in the mass shooting of Columbia High School in New York using a pump-action shotgun on February 9, 2004.
Fortunately, there were no fatalities in the shooting as the principle of the school tackled the shooter after two rounds of firing.
When all the chaos was over Romano was found guilty and after 14 years of imprisonment, he is making a plea for reducing gun violence. He believes he is a changed man now and wants to make a difference or at least try to fix things even though he can’t change his past.
Romano wrote Times Union Executive Editor Rex Smith a hand-written letter saying.
“I know whenever another horrible shooting happens, he and all of my victims are hurt all over again from what I did to them. I want to take away their pain but knowing that I cannot, I want to prevent others from experiencing this pain.”
Our exec editor got a letter from an inmate convicted as a teen for being a school shooter/He had a shotgun, was tackled before anyone died/He now vows support for FL students advocating gun control/EastGreenbush school shooter praises FL advocates https://t.co/yYCzNHGCG2
— Lynda Edwards (@Lynda555E) March 3, 2018
Romano also praised the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas for standing up against gun laws in the country by aiming at politicians responsible for it.
“I believe the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland are courageous and inspiring for demanding action from politicians. Everyone nationwide should accept nothing less than meaningful, life-saving policy changes from their politicians. Only then could this generation be the last generation that lives in a nation plagued by gun violence.”
Romano’s parole is in March 2021 and even though there is still 4 long years ahead of his freedom, he has already decided on what he would be focussing on his release.
“I have taken the steps toward this that I can do from prison, and I intend to advocate for gun safety and mental health reform after my release in 2021.”
Here’s the full letter that he wrote:
“Feb. 24, 2018
Dear Mr. Rex Smith, Vice President and Editor,
I wanted to respond to the column written by Mr. Chris Churchill on Feb. 21st. First, John Sawchuk is a hero who I owe my life to. I know that every time another horrible shooting happens, he and all of my victims are hurt all over again by what I did to them. I want to take away their pain, but knowing I cannot, I want to prevent others from experiencing this pain. I have taken the steps toward this that I can do from prison, and I intend to advocate for gun safety and mental health reform after my release in 2021.
Also, I believe the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL are courageous and inspiring for speaking out and demanding action from politicians. Everyone nationwide should follow and accept nothing less than meaningful, life-saving policy changes from their representatives. Only then could this generation be the last generation that lives in a nation plagued by gun violence.
Coxsackie Correctional Facility
After the news about his letter spread on the internet, people on Twitter praised his enthusiasm and hopeful nature.
— THE CONNET (@THEAlleyeceeing) March 4, 2018
— AC (@_anacarr) March 4, 2018
— Garth Ridge (@GarthRidge) March 4, 2018
One of the students from Romano’s shooting also tweeted.
Never thought I would see this happen. I was a sophomore hiding under my desk in math class that day. Not much has changed in regards to guns since then.
— Jessica Bundy (@JessicaABundy) March 4, 2018
Thank you for your Q, Fiona! TBH, before seeing this letter the thought of it made me very uncomfortable. At the time of the shooting, I thought 20 years was too little. But, if he got the help he needed, I hope he can be a successful member of society.
— Jessica Bundy (@JessicaABundy) March 4, 2018
And some were not ready to accept his voice for justice.
You’re right. He should be given the death penalty for the attempt to commit mass murder. No exceptions! In fact taxpayers shouldn’t have to provide him with one meal!
— An American (@Damn_Yanky) March 4, 2018
No, he said he intends to advocate for mental health reform as well.. but owning a gun does make you more likely to commit an act of violence. It's called the weapons priming effect. CC @Klarevas
— Marty Brennan (@martybrennan) March 4, 2018
His words mean nothing. That man is just an unsuccessful monster in my eyes.
— Rational Human Being (@loveliberty1789) March 4, 2018
There is always two sides of the story and this letter might make a change perspective.
I'm glad you were able to see his letter. The student advocates have given voices to all who preceded them and were never heard. I will stand with and advocate for change. Politicians were pushed to enact laws before, the same outcome is unacceptable. #GunControlNow #NeverAgain
— Sandra West (@sandra_speaks) March 4, 2018