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March 9, 2001, San Diego Union-Tribune, A Fatal Day in 1979; San Diego girl, 16, killed 2, wounded, by Leslie Wolf Branscomb,

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March 9, 2001, San Diego Union-Tribune, A Fatal Day in 1979; San Diego girl, 16, killed 2, wounded, by Leslie Wolf Branscomb, Union-Tribune Staff Writer,

For years after she was shot in one of the nation's first schoolyard shootings, Crystal Hardy flinched when she heard firecrackers.

Monika Selvig seemed emotionally untouched, though she had been shot in the abdomen. Later, she turned to drugs.

For Kathe Wragg the turning point came three months after Brenda Spencer's Jan. 29, 1979, shooting spree, when her slain husband appeared to her in a dream.

And Matthew Hardy credits the experience with turning him toward a life of serving God.

These are the real-life stories of what can happen after the school psychologists leave, after the hand-wringing and finger-pointing subside, after the national media pack up and move on. This is how the victims of San Diego's first mass school shooting have coped with the tragedy and put their lives back together.

When 15-year-old Charles "Andy" Williams allegedly took a gun to Santana High School on Monday and opened fire on the students there, it was not a first for San Diego County.

Twenty-two years ago Brenda Spencer, a 16-year-old loner, picked up a rifle with a scope that her father had given her for Christmas and began shooting children and employees at Cleveland Elementary School across the street from her home.

When asked why she did it, Spencer uttered the infamous line, "I don't like Mondays." She is now serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life and comes up for parole later this year.

The school on Lake Atlin Avenue in San Carlos closed in 1983 due to declining enrollment and has been used for a variety of purposes since. But the flagpole still stands, and next to it is a brass monument to the two who died there: principal Burton Wragg and custodian Michael Suchar. Nine others were wounded.

The monument to Spencer's victims sits on the very spot where Monika Selvig, then 8, fell when she was shot. Six years later, when the school was operating as a private Lutheran school, Selvig attended classes there for one semester but found she just couldn't take it.

"People would stand on the monument while waiting for their rides, and it really bothered me," she said yesterday.

Immediately after the shooting, Selvig was praised by the grown-ups around her for being so brave and so cheerful, said her sister, Linda.

Linda Selvig was 10 and usually walked her younger sister to school, but Linda lagged behind that day and her sister went ahead alone. Linda never did make it to school. Instead, she was stopped by police on a street corner and told to go home.

"For years I had guilt over not walking her to school like I was supposed to," said Linda Selvig, now 32.

"I saw a child therapist at school for a few sessions, but my sister never talked to anyone about it, ever," she said. "Everyone said, 'Wow, she's such a trooper.'"

Now 30 and freshly out of drug rehab, Monika Selvig sees where things went wrong. "I just didn't deal with it, and I never got any crisis help or counseling or therapy until I was in my late teens," she said. "By then I was really screwed up.

"I was a child who was strong and brave and didn't cry, so (my parents) weren't really concerned. But that was a mistake."

Her advice to survivors of the Santana shooting: "Talk about it a lot and try to understand."

Kathe Wragg, whose husband was killed trying to help children escape, said she found support initially from friends, then she mustered her strength and resolved to keep moving ahead for the sake of her three teen-aged children.

"You miss the person and always will, but you can't linger on the somber notes all the time," said Wragg, now 72. "I think I realized that quite early, because if you stay in one mode then nothing would get accomplished."

She said she knew she was doing the right thing when she had a dream that her husband, in a hospital gown, came to her and said, "You're doing so well."

"Every day I think of something to be thankful about, so I have a positive outlook," she said. "I don't mull over this often. I think about it, but I don't go into any depths of sadness, because I found it didn't do me any good."

Daryl Barnes, who was a sixth-grade teacher at Cleveland Elementary, remembers he was in the principal's office when the shooting began. He and Burton Wragg ran outdoors, and Wragg was shot. Barnes went over to Wragg, but it was too late.

"She tried to shoot me when I stood up," said Barnes, "but I guess God's hand was on my shoulder."

As Barnes was picking up children and carrying them into the office to safety, he saw Suchar attempt to go to Wragg's aid.

"I yelled at him to stop," Barnes said. "Then I heard him yell, 'My God, I've been hit.'"

Barnes said he fears this kind of incident will continue to happen as long as schools are focused on test scores instead of kids.

"In the 38 years I have been teaching, I always have one or two students in the classroom who struggle with the values of right and wrong," Barnes said. "The home and the schools really need to focus on moral values."

Barnes said his advice to the survivors of the Santana shooting is to "get help, work your way through it."

"And if you possibly can, you need to seek forgiveness for that young man, for your own mental health."

Matthew Hardy was 5 years old and a first-grader at Cleveland Elementary when he witnessed the shooting. His older sister, Crystal, with whom he was walking to school, was shot in the hand.

"We didn't really know what was going on. We thought it was firecrackers," said Hardy.

For years afterward, his sister would duck at the sound of fireworks, he said.

Now 27 and a pastor at Horizon Fellowship, Hardy still lives just three blocks from the old school. Crystal lives in Phoenix.

Though he initially became angry and abandoned religion, Hardy said the shooting incident shaped his later decision to return to the church.

"It definitely influences you," he said. "It makes you really think that your life could be gone in an instant."

Hardy's advice in the aftermath of the Santana shooting is for Christians to obtain biblical counseling. All can benefit from some true soul-searching, he believes.

"I think sometimes that's why God allows these things, so that people can search and think about the meaning of life," Hardy said.

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