Virginia Tech shooting survivor speaks to Midlands officers at appreciation luncheon

Virginia Tech shooting survivor speaks to Midlands officers at appreciation luncheon

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The 2017 Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon was held at Pine Island on Lake Murray Thursday. The International Association of Industrial Security (ASIS) put on the event for law enforcement officers across the state.

Five Columbia Police Department officers were honored with the Kyle Carpenter Award – which is given out annually by ASIS to a member of law enforcement who displays heroism in the performance of their duties.

Kyle Carpenter is the youngest Marine Medal of Honor Recipient since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Carpenter was injured in November of 2010 by an enemy hand grenade and spent two-and-a-half years in recovery before enrolling in the University of South Carolina, where he will graduate with his Bachelor's degree in December 2017.

The five recipients – Darren Robinson, Gabriel Starcher, Timothy Carpenter, George Key and Brian Martin – were honored for their bravery during an April 2017 incident, when a career criminal with a violent history entered a Walmart in Columbia – where he brandished a gun, threatened an employee and shot and injured an elderly gentleman.

Officers shot him, subdued and handcuffed him – ending the rampage and averting any further injuries. They also were able to apply a tourniquet to the injured civilian and according to hospital staff, likely saved his life.

The keynote speaker at Thursday's event was Kristina Anderson, a survivor of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, and the founder of a non-profit: The Koshka Foundation.

During her presentation, she talked about the impact first responders and officers had on her during the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

"We will never forget what they did for us in those moments when our lives were held in a dangerous, scary situation. And we're thankful. Even though we don't always have the chance to tell them that, we don't forget that their service mattered to us."

The Koshka Foundation ( - which she founded after the shooting - works with law enforcement, educators and students to improve school safety.

"I want them to have self-ownership and accountability for their community," Anderson said. "I want them to be vigilant of their surroundings. I want them to be build relationships with local law enforcement. I want them to be self-educated as to the safety aspects of wherever they work, or wherever they spend the most physical time. It's a piece of self-responsibility, self-awareness, and self-resiliency for the safety and security of our cities, schools, libraries… whatever the place may be."

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