Stoffa said it took getting past the initial wave of memorials and several interviews with the FBI before he could begin healing emotionally. Deputy Chief Jeff McMaster remembers watching responders go through each and every stage of grieving.
“Those who responded, you saw them go through all the stages of grieving: disbelief, bartering, denial, anger – they went through all those stages,” McMaster said.
Stoffa credits then-Deputy Chief Greg Hoyle, who retired in 2016 and was the battalion chief the day of the shooting, for holding his team together in the months to come.
“I honestly credit Greg with keeping the bond strong between guys over the next few months,” Stoffa said. “All too often, we hear about trauma and fallout after going through these sort of emotions.”
Fire Chief Eric Hicks said the rapid and successful response was a credit to every agency in the county that responded, including the Sycamore police and fire departments, the county sheriff’s office and Illinois State Police.
“People came from all over the county to assist with that call and other calls that were going on at that time,” Hicks said.
McMaster said meeting victims, survivors and their families from other shootings, such as the one at Virginia Tech, particularly during the candlelight vigil held on campus Friday night, has been invaluable.
“It took me by surprise, how it opened up feelings I didn’t know were there,” he said.
Grady, who retired after receiving a $1 million settlement from the university, said he’s chosen to move on.
“I try not to dwell in the past,” he said. “I’ve said my prayers and make sure I include all those who were involved, and those who responded.
“Then I move on. You cannot live life in the past.”