Survivor of LA Fitness Shootings Offers Hope


The horrific shootings last week inside a movie theater in Aurora, CO, bring back memories of one of the darkest days in the fitness industry. It's been almost three years since a gunman opened fire inside a Pittsburgh-area LA Fitness, killing three women and wounding nine others before taking his own life.

2009-september-pro-400.gifOne of those nine survivors recently shared her story with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In a fascinating interview, Jackquilyne Morris talks about how a bullet that entered her back didn't come out of her body until this past March, some 2 1/2 years after the Aug. 4, 2009, shootings.

Morris still has the scar in her back, but the emotional scars are taking longer to heal. Amazingly, she has returned to the same LA Fitness in Collier Township, PA, where the shootings occurred and is taking yoga classes.

“I was totally in hysterics about that,” her mother, Jamey Gallagher, told the newspaper, “but Jackey said, ‘Oh yeah, I have to.' And then, the more she went, the better I became.”

It's difficult not to think about the three women who didn't have a choice to come back to the club: Heidi Overmier, Betsy Gannon and Jody Billingsley. And it's hard not to think about their families and the families of the 12 victims killed in Aurora.

Our headline for our September 2009 cover story about the LA Fitness shootings was “Lessons Learned.” About a year later, I spoke with someone close to the situation who said there were no lessons learned, that this was a random act by a madman that could have happened anywhere.

Now that we're dealing with another awful tragedy, have we really learned any lessons? At least for the dozens of survivors and their families, there is hope. Just ask Jackey Morris.

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