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Survivors of San Diego’s Cleveland Elementary school shooting speak out

SAN DIEGO -- The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead and 15 wounded on Valentine's Day stirred vivid memories for victims of the nation's first high-profile school shooting -- one that happened here in San Diego in 1979.

It occurred at Cleveland Elementary School in San Carlos. The campus was recently leveled to make way for new condo buildings, but memories of the shooting remain fresh for the surviving victims of that day.

Charles Miller was 9 years old when he was shot in the chest at Cleveland Elementary.

“I walked up to the office area and saw the principal and custodian laying dead in the bushes, and that’s when I was shot,” he remembered in a phone call with FOX.

Miller was one of eight children wounded on January 29, 1979 when a 16-year-old, Brenda Spencer opened fire on students and staff at the San Diego elementary school. The principal and custodian were killed, and a police officer was wounded.

Eric Holt was 18 when the shooting took place.

“My biggest recollection was probably the hysterical parents,” he said. Holt added that news of the shooting in Florida and the constant headlines about school shootings always bring back memories of 1979.

Miller offered words of encouragement for recent survivors: “I think it’s really sad what’s going on, but in the big picture I just hope that the people who do survive can become survivors, and not continue to live their lives as victims."