SPOKANE, Wash. — Editor's note: To ensure the anonymity of the victims, they will be identified with their initials.
On Sept. 13, 2017, Caleb Sharpe brought a duffle bag of guns with him to Freeman High School. He carried that bag to the second floor hallway and opened fire. He killed Sam Strahan, a sophomore, and injured three other classmates. There have been several mentions of Sam in victim impact statements in court so far this week.
Those who knew Sam said his smile and sense of humor brought a light to their life. Many told the judge the pain of Sam’s death is still fresh in their mind. Including Freeman teacher Angela Frye.
"When Mr. Carlin had told me that Sam had been killed, I almost lost it," Frye said. "I wanted to break down and scream and cry. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was to stay strong for the students in the room with me.”
To this day her heart goes out to Sam’s mother, Ami Strahan.
“My heart broke for Ami when I realized she lost another loved one again so soon and so tragically,” Frye said.
Jim Rae, another Freeman teacher, brought a textbook to court that Sam signed years ago.
“At the time, I wasn't overly happy with him for having my teacher’s edition, or for writing in it," Rae said. "You can see I still have the book today where he has signed it. But now every time I open my book, I see his name and I smile. It's one of my greatest treasures.”
Freeman student M.R. gave the judge a photo capturing a fond memory with Sam. She addressed the shooter in her statement Tuesday.
“When I think of the shooting, you are not my first thought," M.R. said. "My first thought goes to Mrs. Strahan, Sam Strahan and his family and friends.”
Rae shared the same thoughts. He told the judge Sam Strahan will always be remembered.
“This new generation of students asked me about that day," Jim said. "They all know about it through their brothers and sisters or from what they've heard, or what they can remember. The thing that strikes me when they asked me, 'who did it?' They know what happened, but they have no idea who did it. They don't even know your name. And I don't tell them. I just say some coward. Now, Sam Strahan, they know his name.”
While these impact statements are filled with heartbreak and trauma, you can’t ignore the love they also express for a young man who was taken too soon.