Ten years ago this week a 6-year-old boy took a gun from his 19-year-old uncle's home to school. He then shot and killed his 6-year-old classmate Kayla Rolland.
Genesee County's Prosecutor at the time, Art Busch says the tragedy shocked the nation to attention, and ultimately made children across the country safer.
Kayla TMs mother, Veronica Mcqueen took action after the shooting to make sure it didn TMt happen again. She marched on Washington, met with President Bill Clinton, and asked the public and legislature to support programs that prevent violence in schools.
Lawmakers did what they could to make sure it didn't happen again.
I believe she made a difference in the national, Flint, and international scene, says McQueen TMs attorney at the time, J. Dallas Winegarden.
"There's more involvement of law enforcement at the first rumor of a gun. There are laws that remove students who tend to violence. There is better coordination between law enforcement and schools," says Genesee County TMs Prosecutor at the time Art Busch. "And I think there is a greater awareness in our country that children and guns don't mix."
However the police chief who investigated the shooting has a warning.
Retired Mount Morris Township Police Chief Eric King says he TMs concerned lawmakers are cutting programs implemented or expanded after the shooting as they deal with budget cuts.
He volunteers with the organization Fight Crime Invest in Kids. It lobbies for funding for early childhood care and education.
He says the state continues to slash day care programs for the poor, programs that would have kept the 6-year-old gunman from going unsupervised in his drug-dealing uncle TMs home.
In the year after Kayla TMs death Michigan spent $413,803,949 on such programs. Last year the state spent $317,228,597 according to the Department of Human Services.
Cuts in the number of social workers are another example.
Neighbors say they reported crime and neglect at the shooter TMs home. Social workers began to investigate, but didn TMt finish before the tragic day. Between 2002 and 2009 case loads for Michigan social workers have more than doubled.
As he cleans Kayla's headstone on the tenth anniversary of the shooting, her father Ricky Rolland says he can't help but think about how she would be sixteen this year. He says he fears people have forgotten.
He sued the school district after Kayla's death, but the case never made it to trial. He says if he had won schools would have been forced to work harder to protect students from violent classmates and have more metal detectors.