La. shooting sparks flashbacks for Cary woman who survived similar attack

Kim Yaman of Cary survived a mass shooting in Iowa in 1991.

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Repercussions from the Louisiana shooting Thursday night were felt all the way to the Triangle.

Back in 1991, Cary’s Kim Yaman survived a mass shooting on the University of Iowa campus.

There, a graduate student was denied a prestigious academic award—and opened fire in a building. Five people were killed. The student, Gang Lu, killed himself.

“My incident was 24 years ago — and its startling how quickly it all comes back,” Yaman said Friday.

Gang, who was 28, opened fire on during a research group meeting. He shot the chairman of the schools’ physics and astronomy department as well as another school official before taking his own life.

During the rampage, Yaman hid from the gunman in a room with her two small children. She said she understands exactly what those involved in the Louisiana shooting are enduring.

“I feel such utter compassion for everyone who were in that theater – their family—friends,” Yaman said. .”It must just be ripping their lives apart today.”

For years, Yaman hoped that the passing of time would make it easier to deal with the trauma of that day. When the Newton shootings happened in 2012, she felt she had to go public.

“We need survivors to talk about the long-term implications and consequences of these shootings that are just taking place far, far, far too often in our country,” Yaman said.

Yaman said the survivors of the Louisiana shootings will have to cope with many emotions and turmoil in the years ahead.

“Everyone goes through something different,” she said. “There’s survivor guilt, with people feeling they shouldn’t have survived.. That’s their way of processing their place in all of this. And there will be people who are unable to function and a sense that on a personal level, ‘I can’t deal with this, I’m not equipped to deal with this much pain.’

“There are flashbacks- constant flashbacks–trying to think—what if I’d done this.”

In 1991, reports of mass shootings like what happened in Iowa were rare. But now they happen with more frequency.

“We’re starting to grow an identifiable demographic of survivors and family members who are having to live with this,” Yaman said.

The man accused in the Louisiana shooting was said to have mental health issues, which appears to be a common denominator in a number of mass shootings.

Yaman wondered if the United States is doing enough to help people with mental health issues deal with their problems.

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