25 years later, survivor remembers Standard Gravure shooting

25 years later, survivor remembers Standard Gravure shooting
Jacquie Miller
Jacquie Miller

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Sunday marked 25 years since a massacre in downtown Louisville left eight people dead and another 12 injured.

The Standard Gravure shooting was one of the nation's first mass shootings in a workplace, and even a quarter century later, for some the physical and emotional wounds haven't healed.

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On Sept. 14, 1989, Joseph Wesbecker, an employee of the printing company, went on a shooting spree. He opened fire on his co-workers with an AK-47 before ending his own life with a handgun.

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Jacquie Miller was at her desk when she heard the gunfire. She was shot four times. She says she doesn't want all those who lost their lives or were wounded to be forgotten.

"It feels like it's been forever, really. Even longer than the 25," she said. "But sometime I have moments where I feel like it was just a week or so ago."

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Jacquie spent two weeks in the hospital after the shooting, undergoing surgery.

She had a gun with her that day and had turned away from the shooter to grab it when she was hit by the bullets.

At one point Jacquie came face to face with the killer.

"And we just stood there for two, three seconds and just looked at each other in the eyes."

Jacquie copes through prayer and agonizes over new acts of violence.

"When they were putting me under for surgery I told the doctor please tell my family that I love them, and that's all I could think about." Richard Dotson was the police chief at the time.

"Those kinds of wounds never heal," he said.

He headed straight for Standard Gravure while he listened to one of his officers over the scanner.

"He kept saying, 'I've got one shot here. I've got one shot here,'" he recalled.

Once inside, the chief would find the body of the shooter, Joseph Wesbecker. He killed himself after injuring 20 people and killing eight.

For the police chief, time hasn't helped him heal.

"You wonder if you could have done more to help the people who were heart and who were killed," he said.

The former chief hopes the tragedy helps other departments facing the similar horrors. "Hopefully they learned from what we unfortunately had to be the one to tell," he said.

Jacquie suffers from PTSD and says prayer helps her get through. The former chief went on to teach criminal investigation at Jefferson Community College.

Wesbecker bought the guns used in the massacre just months after the first President Bush signed a law banning the importation of such rifles, although such weapons already in the U-S are legal to own.


The case, like more-recent mass shootings, brought the issue of gun control to the center of national debate. Editors at The Courier-Journal, in defense of running a front-page photo of a dead victim the following morning said it did so to show people the impact of such weapons.

The case went to the US Supreme Court which sided with the paper's right to publish the photo.

Because Wesbecker had started taking Prozac less than a month before the shooting, victims' families filed suit against manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company claiming the antidepressant contributed to his actions.

The jury decided 9-to-3 for Lilly, a result seen by some as proof of Prozac's safety. It wasn't until several years later that it was revealed that Lilly had already arranged a settlement with the plaintiffs before the verdict.

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