School hero’s mom: ‘I would hug’ shooter’s par­ents

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Tim Swarens

Kristi Sea­man’s phone rang as she stepped back into her of­fice after an em­ployee break­fast on the last day of the school year.

It was her daugh­ter-in-law — with heart-stop­ping news. There had been a shoot­ing at Noblesville West Mid­dle School in In­di­ana. Kristi’s son, sci­ence teacher Ja­son Sea­man, had been shot and was on the way to a hospi­tal.

Then came a re­as­sur­ance that Kristi says she didn’t trust: “Ja­son says he’s go­ing to be OK.”

“I know Ja­son,” Kristi Sea­man said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Indianapolis Star. “He would say he was go­ing to be OK even if he wasn’t.”

The 130-mile drive from Bob and Kristi Sea­man’s home in Ma­homet, Ill., to Indianapolis usu­ally takes about two hours. That day — a day when ev­ery minute Kristi waited dragged by like a snail on a side­walk — road con­struc­tion on I-74 slowed their jour­ney.

As Bob nav­i­gated traf­fic, Kristi called fam­ily mem­bers to tell them about Ja­son. She fought back her fears as well.

“I needed to see him,” she said. “As soon as I got to see him, I’d be OK. But not un­til then.”

Fi­nally, the mo­ment came for Bob and Kristi to walk into their son’s hospi­tal room.

“I just re­mem­ber the relief of see­ing him,” she said. “I smiled, and he smiled back, and then he shrugged as if to say, ‘What are you go­ing to do?’ ”

Two weeks later — after she had seen Ja­son walk out of the hospi­tal, after he had been re­peat­edly hailed as a hero for tack­ling the stu­dent who shot him three times — Kristi Sea­man was calm and thought­ful as she re­flected on a time she can only de­scribe as “crazy.” She knows her fam­ily wasn’t the only one scarred by that day. She knows that 13-year-old Ella Whistler — shot seven times — faces a long path to re­cov­ery. She knows Ella’s par­ents face a hard jour­ney of their own.

There’s an­other fam­ily Kristi has been think­ing about — and pray­ing for — as well.

“No­body knows what they’re go­ing through,” Kristi said of the par­ents of the 13-year-old boy ac­cused of shoot­ing Ja­son and Ella. “I feel for them.”

What would she say if she could meet them?

“I would give them a hug,” she said, “and say, ‘Rely on God.’ ”

And what about the ac­cused shooter? “He’s just a kid,” Kristi said. “There’s got to be some­thing else go­ing on.”

As for the de­ci­sion to pros­e­cute the boy as a ju­ve­nile, “that’s the prose­cu­tor’s job. You have to rely on his judg­ment,” she said. “I work in a school of­fice, and some­times we know things that the pub­lic doesn’t know. You have to trust in those who have to make de­ci­sions.”

SUB­MIT­TED

Ja­son Sea­man hugs his mother, Kristi, dur­ing his days play­ing high school bas­ket­ball in Ma­homet, Ill.

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