School hero’s mom: ‘I would hug’ shooter’s parents
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.”
Jason Seaman hugs his mother, Kristi, during his days playing high school basketball in Mahomet, Ill.