Earlier this week, a 15-year-old boy brought an assault rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, and several hundred rounds of ammo to Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon. He shot and killed a 14-year-old classmate, Emilio Hoffman, in the boys’ locker room before being cornered by police and taking his own life. The shooter got everything he needed to carry out a mass murder from his parents, “responsible gun owners” who kept the military-style weapons and ammunition in the family home.
Seth Needler, a teacher at Reynolds who was hunkered down in a classroom with 40 students during the shooting and ensuing lockdown, wrote up a chilling account of the ordeal and a call to action to fix our nation’s epidemic of gun violence. He posted it on Facebook, and it has been shared nearly 3,000 times so far. Read his powerful words in their entirety below, and keep sharing it — and demanding action — until our leaders finally take note. Not one more. Keep reading »
A lone gunman and a student are dead in a school shooting this morning at a high school about 12 miles outside Portland, Ore., police are confirming, contrary to earlier reports that the only casualty was the shooter. The gunman opened fire at Reynolds High School while classes were in session at about 8am local time, reports the AP; a local police rep confirms to CNN that a semiautomatic weapon was involved. Read more on Newser…
The first person that Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, killed on December 14, 2012, was his own mother. She was murdered in her pajamas, lying her in bed, with four bullets to the head. The New Yorker has a profile of Adam’s father, Peter Lanza, in their most recent issue. Written by Andrew Solomon, it is the first time that Peter Lanza has ever spoken to the press about his son’s crimes. However, what stuck out to me most was not Peter unfathomable trauma or even Adam’s cornucopia of possible illnesses — depression? OCD? schizophrenia? insanity? — but instead Adam’s mother and Peter’s ex-wife, Nancy Lanza.
In the mid-2000s, a Yale psychiatry nurse specialist named Kathleen Koenig met with Adam after a time period in which he had started and then abruptly stopped using the antidepressant Lexapro, due to negative side effects. Throughout his teens, The New Yorker describes, Adam would frequently have “meltdowns” and cry alone, sometimes for hours at a time, behind a locked door. Nurse Koenig wrote that she implored Adam to take medication: “I told him he’s living in a box right now, and the box will only get smaller over time if he doesn’t get some treatment.”
Reading that, it seems to me that Nancy Lanza was also living in a box that was only getting smaller if Adam didn’t get treatment. Keep reading »
Details remain sparse, but Nevada police say two people are dead after a shooting at Sparks Middle School shortly after 7am local time this morning. The shooter is among the dead, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal, and Sparks’ city manager says the shooter was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two more people have been transferred to a hospital, where they are in critical condition; a hospital rep says both are male minors. The AP notes that Sparks is located just east of Reno. That city’s deputy chief says as many as 200 personnel responded to the school and local area. “The schools are safe. The rest of the city is safe,” he says. Read more at Newser…
If it weren’t for Antoinette Tuff, our nation could have been mourning another horrific school shooting. Yesterday morning, a gunman entered an Atlanta-area elementary school armed with an AK-47 and other weapons and told Tuff, who was filling in for a secretary in the front office, that he was going to die today. He asked staffers to call local news stations to film the carnage he had planned. But he hadn’t planned on meeting Tuff, who calmly asked his name and told him that he still had a chance to make this right. He refused to tell her his name, but Tuff kept talking: she told him about her own life and the difficulties she had faced in recent years. “I told him, ‘OK, we all have situations in our lives. I went through a tragedy myself,’” Tuff told ABC News. “It was going to be OK. If I could recover, he could too.” When Tuff had built up enough trust with the gunman, she asked him to put down his weapons and surrender, and — miraculously — he did. “I give it all to God,” says Tuff. “I’m not the hero. I was terrified.” I must respectfully disagree about the hero part — Tuff’s calm and compassionate handling of this situation saved countless live yesterday. She’s definitely a hero. [NPR]
Too soon? That’s the question comedians ask themselves when they make a joke about a tragedy. The same could be asked of filmmakers who decide to take on sensitive topics like 9/11, the Holocaust, or the Titanic. One director has discovered that coming out with plans for a Sandy Hook-themed movieisn’t such a great idea right now. Or maybe ever.
The French-born film director Jonathan Bucari, who has directed nothing anyone has ever heard of, announced plans on fundraising site Indiegogo to direct a film about a young boy with a mental illness who was severely affected by the Sandy Hook shootings. He said he planned to shoot the film in Ridgefield, Connecticut, a town near Newtown.
Almost immediately, the backlash began on Twitter, with people calling the director “opportunist slime” and telling him to “stay away” from the people of Connecticut. Bucari had told a local TV station that he planned to shoot in Ridgefield because it looked like Newtown. But Ridgefield local leaders said they wouldn’t allow it. Read more…
One student has been shot at a high school in Taft, Calif., a community in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Police say a suspect is in custody and is believed to be a student. The shooting was reported at Taft Union High School around 9am local time, and the wounded student has been flown to a hospital in Bakersfield with unspecified injuries. Police think a shotgun was used in the attack. Local station KGET says a second student received minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene.
The irony about people who cope with depression is that some of us are actually quite happy people. We are not, contrary to stereotype, slogging through life with the weight of one thousand sorrows dragging behind us. I may feel things intensely, sure. But I’m not someone whose blue-colored glasses see everyone screwed up and the world a terrible place.
That is, until the holidays come around. Keep reading »
This morning, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre held a press conference, meant to be the NRA’s response and “meaningful contribution” to the Newtown shooting that occurred one week ago. Rather than surprise the audience by actually taking some responsibility for promoting a gun-crazy, shooting-first-and-ask-questions-later culture, LaPierre did what was sadly expected: he denied any culpability for the incident and proposed that schools start hiring armed police officers to protect children. Keep reading »
I am not a mother. This fact has kept me from expressing my heartbreak over the shootings in Sandy Hook. In the aftermath of this horrifying event, I’ve watched countless friends — mothers, all of them — post wrenching status updates on Facebook. I’ve read them, feeling oddly ashamed inside. These moms talked of compassion for those poor little children, of the need to step up to the plate as adults, of the fear they have for the future, of roiling anger toward the government, and of utter helplessness. They posted pictures of the beautiful young faces lost to this insane tragedy. They urged others to take a stand, and to hold their own children close.
The same thoughts streamed through my head. Tears welled in my eyes, too. I texted my siblings and begged them to hug and kiss their little ones for me.
But something was silencing the part of me that wanted to join these moms in their outrage. I felt it wasn’t my place. How could I know, after all, what kind of fear these parents were expressing? How could I possibly relate to their protective instincts? I am not a mother. Keep reading »