A man convicted of carrying out a school shooting in 2004 has penned a letter from behind bars that praises the gun control advocates of Parkland, Florida, and lauds the man who disarmed him as “a hero who I owe my life to.”
Jon Romano, who fired a pump-action shotgun inside his New York high school’s halls 14 years ago last month, wounding a teacher, expressed remorse and hope of change in a letter published by the Albany Times Union on Friday.
The letter came just days after John Sawchuk, then an assistant principal at Columbia High School in the Albany suburb of East Greenbush, recalled to the Union how he tackled and disarmed Romano before anyone could be killed.
Sawchuk shared his belief that if Romano, then age 16, had been armed with an AR-15 or a semi-automatic weapon, “a lot of people would have been dead.”
“John Sawchuk is a hero who I owe my life to,” responded Romano, who is serving a minimum of 17 years in prison for the Feb. 9, 2004, assault that left a teacher wounded from buckshot to his leg.
“I know whenever another horrible shooting happens, he and all of my victims are hurt all over again from what I did to them. I want to take away their pain but knowing that I cannot, I want to prevent others from experiencing this pain,” his letter stated.
Romano, who was convicted of attempted murder and reckless endangerment, also praised the survivors of last month’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, calling their effort to prevent future attacks “courageous” and “inspiring.”
“Everyone nationwide should accept nothing less than meaningful, life-saving policy changes from their politicians,” his letter stated.
Romano wrote that he plans “to advocate for gun safety and mental health reform” after his release in 2021.