Sadly…there has been another mass shooting. There was a young man who, last week, celebrated his 18th birthday by going out and purchasing two automatic rifles, and 375 rounds of ammunition. Everything he did was legal in the state of Texas where he lived. Yesterday, Tuesday, he got up and apparently had an argument with his grandma, with whom he lived. The argument concerned his phone; a typical teenager-in-the-house kind of argument. He was messaging with a 15-year-old girl in Germany, and a 16-year-old girl also in Germany. He messaged the 15-year-old girl saying he was going to kill his grandmother. We have learned that he did, in fact, shoot his grandmother in the face. Miraculously, she was able to dial 911 and asked for help, and also told 911 that he was headed to a nearby elementary school to shoot people there. One can only assume that the attack on his grandmother had to do with the argument about the phone; however, as the grandmother has not regained consciousness since she was taken to the hospital and may not survive, we may never know for sure. Apparently, the grandfather was not home at the time the grandmother was shot.
The boy took the grandmother’s SUV and, without a license, drove towards the elementary school, crashing the car before he arrived. He had both assault rifles with him in the SUV, but only took one — and a bag of ammunition — with him as he walked to the school. When he got to the elementary school he encountered the school “Resource Officer” (a kind of school police officer; sometimes an actual member of the local police department, working either on or off official duty, sometimes a private security guard). They looked at each other. The 18-year-old young man standing there with the automatic rifle and a bag of ammunition, and the armed officer. The officer did not draw his gun, give a warning shot or attempt to apprehend the young man. The young man turned and ran into the school, down two hallways and into a class room on the left side of the hallway.
When he got inside the classroom filled with 10 year-old 4th graders and 2 teachers, he began to shoot. And shoot. And Shoot. 19 of the 10-year-olds were murdered, along with 2 teachers, one of whom through herself in front of some of the children trying to protect them. She died a hero.
40 to 60 minutes later, law enforcement shot the shooter and ended the horrific ordeal.
This is not the end of the story.
This story is much bigger than the horrendous crime committed by the 18-year-old. 19 10-year-olds will not go on vacation with their families this summer, or ever again. They will put no more teeth under their pillows for the Tooth Fairy. They won’t go to that long-awaited baseball game with their dad or mom. They won’t be helping mom make a birthday cake for dad next week. They will never go to Prom. They will never ever graduate from High School. They won’t be taking college entrance exams, and be jumping up and down because they got into the college they wanted. They won’t ever get married, no tux or white satin wedding dress. No next generation. And no growing old together.
Their parents, their families, are never going to completely heal from this horror. To lose a child is hard enough when they are a victim of leukemia or cancer, but to be a victim of an angry kid who dropped out of high school — how do you recover?
How do you walk into your child’s bedroom? How do you touch the bed they will never sleep in again? How do you pick up the clothes they just dropped on the floor? How do you look at their new puppy who sleeps in their room? And tomorrow morning, when their alarm goes off for school, and the sound wakes you — for the first few seconds you don’t know why, but then you remember. How do you cope?
You’re used to yelling upstairs — don’t forget to make your bed. Don’t forget to brush your teeth. Don’t forget to comb your hair. From now on, those familiar little reminders will always remind you that something is missing. Your baby is missing.
The other children in that school room who were not murdered or injured were still touched by this crime. They were looking forward to sitting with their best friend at lunch; hoping their teacher wouldn’t read their assignment too closely. They were going to go to camp next week and that was going to be really fun. They were hoping there wouldn’t be homework that night, just a few days from the end of the school year.
But everything changed. Everything was fine, and sunny and bright and beautiful, and then this strange teenager walked in and he had a gun, and he began to shoot. Everybody was screaming and yelling, and trying to remember the training from the active shooter drills. But mostly, everyone was afraid. More afraid then they’d ever been before in their lives.
All of a sudden, there was blood everywhere, and I saw my friend fall down, and there was blood around her. And I was so scared I threw up. Then other kids were falling down and the gun was so loud, and he shot and shot, and finally he ran out of the room and the police came into the room, and some chased him and I don’t know what happened beyond that. And I’m still scared.