STOCKTON, Calif — Sam Leam will never forget the day a 26-year old gunman with an AK-47 entered the Cleveland Elementary School campus when Leam was just in second grade.
"We thought it was fireworks. So, me and my friend stood there on the playground with our fingers in our ears," said Leam, who now lives in Chicago and spoke to ABC10 on the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland School shootings.
Leam suffered gunshots to his arm and hip. In all, five were killed and 32 were wounded on January 17, 1989.
The shooting caused the creation of Cleveland School Remembers which supports legislation to help prevent gun violence.
"Another horrific tragedy that continues to happen," said co-chair Niki Smith about the mass shootings in San Jose. "No matter how hard we advocate for things to change, they don't seem to be changing," said Smith.
So after all these years, have things changed for the better in regards to preparedness to mass shootings? Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones says yes.
Jones said after the Columbine mass shooting in Colorado, law enforcement no longer only surrounds, secures and calls in tactical teams.
"What we've learned in policing is we cannot wait for that. And that's why you've seen numerous cases where police go in quickly," said Jones. "Whether they have a small team or by themselves, if they arrive on scene and they hear gunshots, they go in even without backup, if you will."
Jones said mass shootings have increased through the decades in the United States. He says better protection for everyone happens with improved awareness to be prepared.
"Schools, businesses, organizations have safety and security plans, run their employees through the drills. And, then we do training, training, training [and] really concentrate on communication. Again we hope we never have a tragic situation like that occur in Stockton," added Jones.
As for Cleveland School Remembers, the group believes change will happen with a ban on assault weapons, a nationwide background check system and a ban on so-called "ghost guns" or homemade firearms.