Once the victim of a random attack, ex-FBI agent heads anti-violence program

CHICAGO — Phil Andrew and his parents didn’t know that Laurie Dann had just shot six children at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, killing 8-year-old Nick Corwin, one day in 1988 when she walked into their home with two guns and no pants.

"She had come in with a bag around her waist and my mother merely offered her a pair of shorts," Phil remembers.

Dann had to put down one of the guns to put on the shorts. Phil grabbed it. And after a face-off over the gun, the 20-year-old was able to negotiate his parents' release. But Dann shot him before he could leave himself.

"I was shot in the right side of my chest, bullet penetrated lung, lodged in left lat," he remembers.

Phil recovered to have a long career in the FBI, serving as a crisis negotiator over 16 of those 20-plus years. His unique experience made him especially qualified for his new role as Director of Violence Prevention Initiatives for the Chicago Archdiocese.

"Every form of violence has a traumatic effect that has a ripple effect within our community. And it’s really a community response that’s gonna heal our communities," Phil said.

This new program will address root causes of violence in Chicago, giving services, training and opportunities to help people choose a different path.

"There’s folks that are traumatized from the effects of violence," Phil said. "It isn’t post traumatic stress — it’s current stress."

Phil knows his experience as a survivor can help others in the same situation.

"I think about it every day and that’s what brings the urgency to this work," he said.

Besides grassroots efforts to stop violence in Chicago, the archdiocese is urging legislators to ban all assault weapons.