Shooting at Northern Illinois University

Tony Arnold

No student actively involved with Cru was in the Cole Hall classroom at Northern Illinois University when a lone gunman fired 60 shots on Valentine's Day, ending 6 lives, including his own. Cru is now mobilizing national resources to help its NIU staff members bring comfort and counsel to Northern Illinois students.

While no one active with CRU (the nickname for Cru at NIU) was in the classroom, many were connected with students caught in the shooting. One CRU staff member, along with some students, was standing near Cole Hall when the first panic-stricken students erupted from the building. Another staff member went to high school with the shooter. Until recently, the site of the shooting, the Cole Hall classroom auditorium, was the site of the weekly meeting of CRU.

Within hours of the shooting, the VA Tech Cru staff members contacted the NIU Cru staff members. (Three Cru students died in the tragedy at VA Tech while others barely escaped the killing in the dorm and classrooms.) More than 4,700 Virginia Tech students, staff and alumni have joined the Facebook group Hokies for Huskies.

“The news from Northern Illinois University last week was heartbreaking,” shares Mark Gauthier, U.S. National Campus Director of Cru. “Once again, students and faculty members are dealing with the sort of violence that we prayed would never be seen on a campus again.”

Brent Batiste, NIU Campus Director, reports, “Our 7 staff and 150 active students are doing well emotionally. They are grieving, but united in community. Even though the campus is officially closed this week, students are hosting frequent prayer vigils.”

The NIU administration has asked Cru to help in the effort to provide emotional support to students when classes resume this week. Batiste relates how one CRU student expressed, “I want to be ready. I want to be effective when other students come back.”

“We are asking churches to join us in creating care packages with notes of encouragement for university staff, police, and administration,” says Brent Batiste. “We’ve created a special website just for NIU students, similar to, to help them answer the spiritual questions raised by this tragedy. As funds become available, we’ll be able to provide more help.”

Cru has created a special site for contributions for this effort.

Cru was founded in 1951 and is present in 190 countries. More than 50,000 students are active on 1100 campuses across America.

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