Wedgwood massacre survivor reflects after Connecticut tragedy

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on December 14, 2012 at 9:30 PM

FORT WORTH -- On September 15, 1999, the nation's shock and sympathy focused on Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth.

A gunman with no connection to the church shot and killed four teenagers and three adults, and wounded seven more people before ending the madness with a bullet through his own brain.

Youth counselor Kevin Gailey was shot through the chest and hip that day.

"I believed that by talking about it over and over, I was okay," he said, relating his own experience to the horror of the elementary school massacre in Connecticut Friday.

Gailey's therapy was to busy himself speaking around the world. Then three years later, while speaking to missionaries in Tanzania, he lost it.

"For 45 minutes, I began to uncontrollably sob through a story," he said. "And I could feel myself losing that control emotionally and not being able to stop it. Of course, now I realize I was done. I was emotionally done."

Gailey, who has multiple counseling degrees, returned and sought help. He's seen the darkness now falling on Newtown, Connecticut.

"It reminds me of my own frailty, my own vulnerability and the reality that there is no place that's safe," Gailey said. "That can be very frightening to people."

He said fear brings withdrawal, while the search for answers will bring only frustration.

"Knowing what motivated this gunman is not going to make them feel better," Gailey said. "Knowing why this happened to their children is not going to make them feel better."

He said nothing will now, but that support will mean everything in the future, long after the headlines fade away.

"When these families come out of their shock at what has happened and they start feeling again, there's going to be a lot of emotion," he said.

Kevin Gailey says faith was a huge part of his own recovery. He remains a counselor at Wedgwood Baptist Church.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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