Perception of Huntsville/Madison one year after shootings

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF)- Two very public, very violent school shootings exactly one week apart in Madison County. First was the Discovery Middle School shooting, where 14-year-old Todd Brown gunned down, allegedly by a fellow student in the school hallway.

One year later, the communities continue to heal, but have the Discovery Middle School and UA-Huntsville shootings tarnished the image of the area?

"I think we've worked hard to make sure our community is defined by achievement not by tragedy. The tragedy is something I think we would all like to avoid, but I think we have to be defined by the achievements we've made," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley says he thinks people's perception about our area, may very well have  have changed, but for the better.

"So many folks have looked at how our communities have came together and supported each other and they realize individual acts, a lot at times, can't be stopped, but it's how communities react to those and I think they look at our communities in more of a positive light than the actually incident," said Finley.

Huntsville-Madison County chamber president Brian Hilson agreed. He thinks the tragedy brought our communities closer together.

"It demonstrated tremendous leadership from the city of Huntsville to the university and many many others, and for that, I think many many people are appreciative . So if anything good could possibly come out of something so devastating, I think that is one thing we will certainly benefit from," Hilson said.

Madison resident Eileen Heaton says the shootings were horrible and definitely affected our lives, but she says that Huntsville is bigger than that.

"We have families here who made this their home. We have a future that is exciting and bright and we're picked for so many things worldwide as the place to be.  I think Huntsville's image is just going to get stronger," Heaton said.

"It's gotten the community involved and engaged. They put together a task force of what they should do, so I think that part was really helpful.  So as a community it's great to see that when there is a tragedy and things like that happen, there is a response, not just from within the school community but the entire community," added Sarah Lincoln of Huntsville.

And that only makes us stronger.

"I don't think anyone in the outside area would has changed their perspective on the growth and the ability and the technical capabilities that we have here, and the individual people that make this community what it is today, and will be for many, many years."

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