JOPLIN, MO.--- It's been seven years since Thomas White brought a gun to Memorial Middle School in Joplin and pointed it at Principal Steve Gilbreth. Today, Gilbreth says he forgives White and says this incident hasn't caused him to live in fear.
"To be perfectly honest, I think over the years my vivid memories of that day are not quite as clear as they use to be," said Steve Gilbreth, Joplin Principal.
While the details of October 9, 2006 may be fading, Gilbreth says it's a day that highlights the importance of how the Joplin School District deals with student safety.
"My first concern, obviously for that day and my only concern is my kids are safe," said Gilbreth.
That day, Thomas White, 13 at the time, pointed a gun at him. The gun never went off, saving Gilbreth's life.
"I think when you're in the moment of something like that, I think probably your adrenaline and those things kind of take over," said Gilbreth.
Now, seven years later at almost 21 years of age, White will be a free man. A moment Gilbreth couldn't be happier to see come.
"I hope the best for him, I think that's great," said Gilbreth.
While White was in custody, Gilbreth kept tabs on him and may have even played a part in his early release.
"I told them, I hope the best for Thomas and if it pulls any weight, he certainly has served his time and he deserves a chance to move on with his life," said Gilbreth.
Now White is getting that chance. While the two men haven't had the opportunity to speak face-to-face since they met in the hallway that fateful day, Gilbreth says it doesn't mean he never wants to see White again.
"If Thomas wanted to meet me, I would welcome that. I would wish him well and have a conversation with him," said Gilbreth.
Regardless of whether Gilbreth and White ever cross paths again, the principal says he will continue to focus on educating kids, helping them become strong adults.
"I'm a people person and I always look for the good in people, regardless," said Gilbreth.
Gilbreth says he still doesn't know what prompted White to point a gun at him when he was just 13, but he hopes White makes the most of his life as a man.
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