The family of Kendal Sanders held a press conference Monday afternoon at Church on the Move, giving an update on her condition. Kendal is the 13-year-old victim of last week’s Berrendo Middle School shooting. She is one of three who were injured when another student opened fire inside the school’s gymnasium.
Father Bert Sanders revealed that she had not even been aware that she had been shot until she reached the classroom. Kendal has already returned home from Lubbock on a jet.
Mother Nickie Sanders described the long road to recovery. She reported that Kendal lost some movement and use of her right arm, but this was expected to be only temporary.
Bert said that people need to stop trying to find someone to blame. “Not Mason (Campbell). Not the teachers. Not the schools. The responsibility is ours. We as parents need to be more involved.”
He argued point by point some of the proposals discussed. He does not think the answer lies in gun control. “We can take guns away, and there will be knives. If we take knives away, there will be something else.”
Neither does he believe that Roswell needs to fortify the schools. “We can put metal detectors in our schools … but evil can still get in,” Sanders said.
Sanders also discussed the attitude exhibited by some — it’s Roswell; there’s always shooting. “The problem is not Roswell. We need to pull together. Roswell is a good town. … It can happen anywhere — at church, at the mall.”
He defended Campbell, the 12-year-old who is charged with the shooting, and the Campbell family. “Mason is not a bad boy, and the Campbells are good people.”
He said Kendal and Mason were friends. Both went to Vacation Bible Study together. Kendal shares her father’s forgiving nature. “She is not angry at Mason. She thinks he made bad choices.”
Bert said he believes that discipline is the key, discipline that begins in the home and continues in the schools. Each person bears responsibility. “It starts with young kids. It starts at home. It starts with the young at the time. At each school shooting, someone knew. Someone could have reported it.”
Pastor Troy Smothermon of Church on the Move agreed with his assessment: “We need to return discipline to our schools. Washington, D.C., and Santa Fe are not going to dictate to Roswell what should happen.”
Nickie thanked people for their prayers and support, listing the Roswell Independent School District, the Roswell Police Department and the Roswell Fire Department, all the Berrendo Middle School staff, New Mexico State Police Sgt. Gary Smith, teacher John Masterson and the hospital staff in Lubbock, among many others. She said the family had received so many calls from well-wishers that there were too many people to name all of them.
Bert, too, thanked people for their support, but said the family was trying to keep visitors to a minimum. He requested that media not attempt to contact the family with questions. “Take the spotlight off our schools and off our children. Just let her be a little girl.”
He reminded people that all the students at Berrendo have been traumatized by the incident and he hopes that people will include the uninjured victims in their prayers.
In a press conference held for television last week, Gov. Susana Martinez released the name of the second victim, Nathaniel Tavarez. She told media that doctors repaired slight damage to his heart. She said his face and head were pockmarked by shotgun pellets and both of his eyes were injured.
Speaking of Tavarez’s recovery, Bert said Nathaniel was doing wonderfully. However, he urged people to respect the Tavarez family’s privacy also.
He admonished the media for relaying so much wrong information on the day of the shooting. Bert was in Artesia at the time. He was notified as he was driving back to Roswell that the victims, including his daughter, had died. “It still tears me up. … There are so many lies out there on Facebook. There are so many rumors.”
Kendal will not be returning to school until next year, but teachers have volunteered to home- school her. Bert vowed to become more personally involved. “We are going to address this. I will be attending school board meetings.”
Smothermon described Kendal as a champ and expressed his pride in Roswell as a whole. “Our community has been awesome. … Our community has come together. It (the shooting) is not tearing us apart. It’s bringing us together.”