Survivor speaks out 40 years after San Diego’s Cleveland Elementary shooting

SAN DIEGO -- Tuesday will mark 40 years since San Diego's first-ever school shooting, which took place at Cleveland Elementary school.

The shooting claimed the lives of the school's principal and janitor, who gave their lives to protect those of their students.

"Just the overall willingness to give, protect and that’s not their role. It really isn’t. But they did it anyways. They stepped up," said Chris Stanley, who was a third grade student when he survived the shooting.

Stanley says he remembers every moment of that day but he chooses to keep most of the difficult memories to himself. Forty years later, Monday was the first time he spoke publicly about the shooting.

January 29, 1979 shaped the person Stanley is today.

"You don’t really live the bad, you try to take those lemons and make some lemonade out of it. That’s why I do what I do," said Stanley, who now works as a junior high school teacher.

It's his way of trying to make a lasting impact on student's lives, but he says there's so much more that needs to be done, including more resources for schools like an adequate number of counselors and psychologists.

The San Diego Unified School District engages in ongoing efforts to make schools a safer place and raise awareness for gun safety. For the first time, the second week of February will mark "gun safety week" across the district. District leaders are also pushing to educate families about how to report people who may be a threat to themselves or others under a new gun violence restraining order state law.

"Then after an assessment is done, the city attorney has the ability and partnership with law enforcement to then take away guns from those people to keep themselves and other people safe," said district representative Kevin Beiser.

The school district will fly its flags at half staff Tuesday in remembrance of the Cleveland Elementary school shooting.

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