20 years later, Standard Gravure shooting remembered

Published: Sep. 14, 2009 at 3:13 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2009 at 12:16 PM EDT
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Mike Campbell
Mike Campbell
Joe Wesbecker
Joe Wesbecker
Chief Richard Dotson at shooting scene
Chief Richard Dotson at shooting scene
Richard Dotson
Richard Dotson

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email
Edited By Mike Dever - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It was one of the nation's first mass shootings. On September 14th 1989, a former employee of Standard Gravure opened fire at the printing company. Joseph Wesbecker killed eight people and injured a dozen others before he killed himself. On Sunday, on the eve of the 20-year anniversary, survivor, Mike Campbell and former police chief Richard Dotson spoke about life after that tragic shooting.

Campbell's life took a different direction after 1989. Twenty years ago Wesbecker shot Campbell six times with an assault rifle during his shooting rampage at Standard Gravure. Campbell, now 71, was 51 at the time and had been with the company for 31 years.

He vividly remembers when Wesbecker shot him. "I was sitting down at a table like this, drinking coffee, and somebody's shooting me. It's a nightmare at the time. I've still got 11 screws and a plate in my arm ... I had my knee replaced finally after 15 years."

Campbell's near-death experience has had a lasting impact on his life, but he says it doesn't define it. "You know, you just can't give up your whole life, you have to stay with it. It's not part of my life anymore.

Campbell says his wife and five children were his drive to survive.

Campbell never returned to work at Standard Gravure, and it closed several years later.

Not surprisingly, Campbell favors gun control, and welcomed the 1994 ban on assault weapons. In 1996, he moved to Meade County and spent the next 10 years doing woodwork. Now he passes the time working around the house, building fences and landscaping.

Campbell said he tries to get together with several other survivors to catch up - but they don't talk about what happened.

The mass shooting has also had a lasting impact on former Louisville Police Chief Richard Dotson, who often thinks about the day Wesbecker snapped. "I don't think there had been anything that serious in the United States up to that point," Dotson said.

The tragedy that happened under Doton's watch as police chief is still very much a part of his life 20 years later.

After 43 years in law enforcement Dotson is now an educator, and he planned to spend the 20th anniversary of the 1989 shooting teaching his criminal investigation course at Jefferson Community College. During the course, he will show students photos of the crime scene at and reports from that day.

"These are all students who want to become police officers," Dotson said. "I try to give them a little reality along with theory. It's a tough lesson, but if I can pass it on to the students and they can learn from it, then we've accomplished something."

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