Austin Pastor, Columbine grad talks about tragedy in Newtown

Published 10:34 am Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rev. Brett Williams shares his thoughts on God, tragedy and Newtown with the Herald. Click here to read his special column.

Pastor Brett Williams of Grace Baptist Church in Austin has unfortunate experience in dealing with tragedy. A 1997 graduate of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Williams remembers with clarity visiting his hometown the summer after the 1999 Columbine shootings captured the nation’s interest, redefined school safety, and broke the hearts of a Colorado town.

Rev. Brett Willliams

“It was a changed community, I would say,” Williams said.

Williams first went to college at the University of Northern Colorado after his high school graduation. Yet he felt the call to go into ministry after his first year of college, so he transferred to Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna in 1998. It was after his first year in Owatonna that he returned to Littleton, a month after the shootings.

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Though he wasn’t directly affected by the Columbine shootings, he witnessed how his hometown changed, and he took away several lessons from his time there. That’s why he felt compelled to speak out this week after the tragic death of 26 students, staff and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in a shooting massacre committed by a lone gunman on Friday.

“What makes these tragedies unique is they involve young people and children,” Williams said. “When you see it happen with people you know, especially with young people or children, it brings things back to reality.”