BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – The harsh reality of yet another school shooting in America struck home to a PGA Professional and his wife/caddie Friday afternoon at the 79th KitchenAid Senior Championship.
Tracy Hubly Starkjohann, wife of PGA Life Member Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, California, learned after completing the second round that nephew, Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh-grade football coach, had been shot in his classroom at Noblesville West Middle School along with a 13-year-old female student.
As details emerged for the couple, Seaman’s mother, Kristi, reported to her sister than Jason had “allowed the male student-turned-shooter to be excused from the classroom. He then returned some 10 minutes later, according to Kristi’s report, carrying two guns.
Seaman looked up, and then went back to giving attention to the female student, who would be shot. Seaman was first hit by a bullet in the abdomen and told his mother that he thought he was hit by a paint ball. Then, according to Kristi, her son looked up to see a smoking barrel.
Seaman had kept a small basketball in his classroom to occasionally toss to students to check if they are paying attention. The ball was near him and he threw it to disrupt the shooter. He then charged forward, taking a bullet to his hip and forearm, and tackling the shooter. Seaman then yelled for students to get out of the building and call 911.
One day later, the Starkjohanns were overwhelmed with joy to learn Seaman’s condition was improving to the point where he could be released from hospital care this weekend. Additionally, they said that the wounded female student was reportedly out of danger and recovering.
“It didn’t surprise me or Chris about Jason taking charge as he did,” said Hubly Starkjohann, who followed her nephew’s career as a multi-sport athlete in high school in Mahomet, Illinois, and later as a defensive lineman for Southern Illinois University. Jason is now the father of a toddler son and a 1-month old daughter, according to Tracy.
“Jason’s mother and father, Bob and Kristi, have calm demeanors and it takes a lot to upset them. Jason carries the same genes and has the ability to handle adversity. He has a tender side, but stay out of his way if he is pushed to the limit.
“He loves kids, teaching and coaching. It made me feel so good to read social media posts and where one student was saying how ‘Mr. Seaman always said through active shooter drills that he was there to protect them.’ Jason is a true hero and I would like more to hear about that.”
Chris Starkjohann, 61, splits time away from competing as an instructor at Carlsbad Golf Center and as coach to a PGA Junior League team at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, California. Tracy and Chris met in 1995 at Torrey Pines near San Diego. She began caddying for Chris in 1997, a year before they were married.
Chris was the Low Club Professional, and finished tied for fifth in the 2009 Senior PGA Championship at Canterbury Golf Club outside Cleveland.
Starkjohann said he did his own processing of the tragic events four hours away from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores, and came away with one thought he didn’t mind sharing.
“You hear the story about the trained officer at Parkland not going in with his weapon to confront that shooter,” said Starkjohann. “I think of Jason, and how he went forward without a gun and saved lives.”
Tracy said that she is attempting to change flights in order that she can visit her sister and nephew, while Chris will prepare to compete next week in the Colorado Senior State Open. Tracy said that after the events of this week, she has an uneasy feeling about the pattern of school shootings in this country.
“It’s as if the publicity surrounding the event has inspired some young people to copy and seek their own publicity,” she said. "What Chris and I feel is that having good faith is necessary more than ever today. You don’t know what God is preparing for us.”
The students at Noblesville West Middle School have set up a GoFundMe account to help in the medical expenses for Jason Seaman and his family to pay bills while he is not working. You can donate to it here.