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'Hero' Noblesville teacher reflects on middle school shooting 4 years later

Jason Seaman will never call himself a hero, but the entire community of Noblesville clearly disagrees.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Four years ago Wednesday, a student opened fire in a classroom at Noblesville West Middle School.

He shot his classmate, Ella Whistler, and teacher Jason Seaman, before Seaman heroically wrestled the student to the ground.

Seaman hasn't spoken publicly about the violence in his classroom in several years. But he sat down with 13News to reflect on his experience and the school shooting in Texas.

When Seaman, a seventh-grade science teacher, heard about the tragedy in Texas, he says he felt profound sadness, but wasn't surprised.

"Not really surprising. Unfortunately, it's a, 'Here we go again.' In my mind, it's the same story, just different characters and...not a lot is changing," Seaman lamented.

The deadly gun violence at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, happened nearly four years to the day since Seaman was shot in his own school.

Seaman spent the anniversary in the same Noblesville West classroom where it happened, still doing what he loves.

RELATED: Texas school shooting victims: What we know so far

"Same room, same everything," Seaman said. "Last night, my wife asked me if I was going to school today and I said, 'Yeah.' And she's like, 'Are you sure?' And I was like, 'Why?' And she said, 'Well tomorrow's the 25th.' And I said, 'Oh yeah, it is!' The 25th to me is a day and I'm not going to let it be something that brings negative emotion."

When a 13-year-old student shot Seaman and Whistler on May 25, 2018, Seaman disarmed the young gunman, wrestled him to the ground, and everyone survived.

"Everything happened so fast. Beginning to end, it was 10 minutes or less and I was off to the hospital," he recalled.

Seaman shrugs off the title of "hero," though the entire community clearly disagrees. He said four years later, his school and the Noblesville district is safer than ever and he thinks about the tragedy less and less.

RELATED: 4 years since Noblesville school shooting | Here's what's changed

"I think we are very safe and I'm thankful for our district for how they've responded," he said, referring to a referendum that led to more door locks, re-secured windows and mental health help.

"We had a great outcome, all things considered, so that definitely factors in to how much I think about it. If I were in the situation in Texas where lives were lost, it would be a much different, much different anniversary."

That's why Seaman is concerned and speaking out.

Credit: WTHR/Jennie Runevitch
Noblesville West Middle School teacher Jason Seaman was the one who stopped a student shooter in May 2018.

School shootings are still happening, with mind-numbing frequency.

"It hurts because people are losing loved ones and it also hurts because it's going to keep happening because what needs to change is not being addressed," Seaman said. "What really frustrates me is that seems to be the trigger for people to fight and point fingers on various platforms but then not a lot is changing in a progressive way, in our legislation and the people who can actually impact that change. Then we get stuck in a circle and go round and round, and nobody gets anywhere. People go online and say, 'Our condolences, our prayers,' and then they don't think about it. They don't think about it next time they vote. I don't want people to live in fear, but if you really want to stop hearing about it, it takes all of us together doing our own little part to have the big outcome."

Seaman said he doesn't have the perfect solution, and he does not believe it's "just a gun issue." He said it mostly comes down to people — a culture shift.

Here's what the science teacher said should change.

"In my case, they educated their child, which is fine, but then at the end, should a child that age have access to a firearm? No. So I think we need to get more towards how we handle those situations. I am a fan of the background checks. That's a start. But just overall, how we approach the subject can't be a 'this or that.' It's got to be a compromise and we need to figure out what works," Seaman said. "It's a puzzle. So you have to have the human element, and you have to have the firearm element, and you have to have the mental health element and that takes specialists from each one coming together to make a compromise and not be entrenched in, 'Well, this is what I think. This is what has to happen.' Also I think lawmakers just have to listen, versus what may get a vote here or there. I know a lot of them don't have a background in education. They have a background in business, and those are two completely different things. They need to listen and talk with educators."

Seaman said, bottom line, schools need to get back to being a safe place for kids.

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