Freeman community reacts to judge’s decision

For the past two years, all eyes have been on Caleb Sharpe, the young man who admitted to a shooting at Freeman High School that killed one student and hurt three others. A judge said Tuesday afternoon that Sharpe will be tried as an adult.

Had Sharpe been charged as a juvenile, he would likely face only a few years behind bars. Now, he could be locked up for life.

4 News Now spoke with some people in Rockford following the judge’s decision. They said they are relieved. They are reminded that this is not just about Sharpe, the victims, or even his fate. This is about a community trying to rebuild after a traumatic event. This is the next step.

When shots rang out at Freeman high school, the life of Sam Strahan was cut short. Three others were injured. Those screams, that pain – it went beyond the walls of Freeman High.

“When this happens to any area, especially a smaller and tighter community – it affects everyone. It affects teachers, parents, all the victims,” said Dave Trejbal, Rockford resident.

The aching fear the shooter caused shook the small town.

“It’s going to be a lifelong change that may be really hard, that may never get over – will never get over,” he said.

Dave and his wife, Karen, have lived in Rockford nearly all their lives. This is where they raised their family. Their kids went to the school Sharpe opened fire.

“Never ever. You always think this happens in the big schools, big cities – not in little freeman,” said Karen Trejbal, Rockford resident.

But it did. Though Sharpe is a teenager, he’ll face consequences as an adult if convicted.

“That’s not a child situation. I think justice was correct,” he said.

“The victims that’s what they deserve,” she said.

What Sharpe admitting to doing two years ago changed the Freeman community forever.

“It’s not as safe as what you think it is. It just, it changes everything,” she said.

The people who live here – they still feel the pain. They still hear the screams.

The man who admitted to the shooting is waiting to hear about his future. Whatever happens, it won’t give Sam Strahan back his.

“Time takes care of a lot of things, but I think once there is justice. At that point, I think that they’re going to have a little more peace,” he said.

Sharpe will be in court again next month. 4 News Now has been following this story, and we will continue to update you as we learn more in court.