Letter to the Editor: After Shane Colombo’s death, deepen the conversation about gun violence

For the past four years, many members of our Northwestern community have focused with dedication on a long-term strategic campaign called We Will. The laudable goal of We Will is to directly influence NU’s trajectory of “academic excellence and discovery and help expand our positive impact throughout the world.”

Source: Vincent Perez
Shane Colombo.

But now, we need a new campaign.

We challenge our respected Northwestern friends, colleagues, staff, students, alumni and neighbors to begin a new campaign called “WILL WE?”

WILL WE… let the memory of psychology doctoral student Shane Colombo fade away from our community’s conscience?

WILL WE… be too wrapped up in the start of fall classes to reflect and mourn the senseless loss of one of our very own students?

WILL WE… read about Shane’s death in The Daily Northwestern but not notice the other media accounts detailing the six additional deaths and at least 31 non-fatal firearm victims over that Labor Day weekend?

WILL WE… take a public health class and learn about the epidemic of gun violence but feel desensitized to the numbers of those shot or killed in other parts of Chicago?

WILL WE… rotate on a medical or surgical team at Feinberg School of Medicine, meet patients affected by gun violence and neglect to ask ourselves, “why him or her and not me?”

WILL WE… hear the loudspeaker on the CTA train say, “This is a Red Line Train to Howard” and fail to wonder who is standing at the bus stop on Clark Street just below, questioning if they are safe?

WILL WE…hear the sirens of future first responders yet leave the emergency room staff, trauma surgeons, ICU nurses, social workers and chaplains to carry the burden of treatment and grief counseling alone?

WILL WE… allow a GoFundMe page that Shane’s family used to transport his body back home to California be our only contribution to his memory?

WILL WE… just sit back and wait for the next episode of senseless firearm violence to strike, maybe even closer to home, another member of the Northwestern family or on campus?

AND WILL WE… be able to look at ourselves in the mirror if and when that happens?


WILL WE… find the courage to host a vigil where we come together as one Northwestern, where we can mourn and openly discuss the violence that’s terrorizing our schools and our country?

WILL WE… use our considerable resources, creativity and expertise in public health, psychology, epidemiology, medicine, law, management, art, political and social science and journalism to act?

We have personally witnessed Northwestern faculty, staff, students and alumni solve some of the world’s most difficult challenges and serve their communities selflessly. We have seen what our Northwestern family can do when we set a goal.

We need to turn the tide on this firearm crisis. Even if small, we must act collectively, and we must act now.



For those who are willing to attend an event to commemorate Shane and start a dialogue on steps each of us can take to address this public health crisis, we’ve created a call to action form and will reach out to those who fill it out at a later date. The Feinberg chapter of Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic will also hold an event downtown on September 17 to educate attendees on the steps they can take to address the epidemic of gun violence. We invite all members of the Northwestern community to attend.

Our hearts break for Shane’s mother, Tonya Colombo, fiancé, Vincent Perez and the entire Colombo family for their tragic loss. We are devastated that September 2 will be their permanent impression of Chicago.

Our hearts break for the innumerable families who have lost their loved ones to gun violence. We share your outrage, but we cannot begin to comprehend your grief.

With Hope,

Daniel B. Evans, MD
Department of Medicine

Namratha R. Kandula, MD, MPH
Department of Medicine

Mamta Swaroop, MD, FACS
Department of Surgery

Kreena Patel
3rd year medical student, Feinberg School of Medicine