Ky. high school shooting survivor talks with WHAS11 15 years later


by Rachel Platt

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 27 at 10:49 PM

(WHAS11) -- It has been 15 years since the Heath High School shooting in Paducah Kentucky on December 1, 1997. Three students were killed, five others hurt.

Missy Jenkins was left paralyzed after the shooting. She is now a wife, mother and author who works with troubled teens.

On that day 15 years ago Missy Jenkins had just wrapped up with a prayer group in the lobby of Heath High School when the unthinkable happened.

She would see someone shot in the head and find herself on the ground, not sure what was happening.

Her twin sister would tell her a fellow student and someone she knew that 14-year-old Michael Carneal had opened fire on them. She never locked eyes with him.

She never saw who shot her, her only recognizable mark is a small dot on her shoulder.

At 15-years-old Missy Jenkins was paralyzed from the chest down. Her scrapbooks document a life before and after the shooting.

At Heath High School there are two memorials for Nicole Hadley, Jessica James and Kayce Steger who were killed. For the five injured, including Missy,  there are stones with their names.

It wasn't just the shooting at Heath High School that changed Missy, it was the shooter too, Michael Carneal.

Carneal claimed he had been bullied. Missy now counsels troubled teens, trying to reach them before they snap. It is one of her many steps to healing. Another step was visiting Carneal in prison and forgiving him.

A woman from whom much was taken, feels blessed because she chose to be happy. She has an amazing husband and two beautiful boys.

She would find love in college and marry Josh Smith to become Missy Jenkins Smith. And despite her injuries and paralysis she was able to conceive and naturally deliver two boys named Logan and Carter.

It is is a bustling household. Logan is five and Carter is nearly three-years-old. They recently moved into a house about 45 minutes from Paducah designed for Missy's wheelcheer.

This is their normal but her children are now asking why. She has revealed that she was shot but she has not told both of them everything.

And after 15 years she is horrified it is still happening. What happened in Newtown hit her hard.

Sending her son off to school next year will be difficult but she will not live in fear. She has not weighed in on the gun debate but does not see the need for assault weapons. Her own family is divided.

So instead Missy concentrates on helping troubled teens and speaks out against bullying.
And remember when she said she chose to be happy? It's the title of a book she's written. She focuses on the positives, she didn't die, she is alive. Alive, well, a wife and a mother.