Everything About This School Gun Story Is Sad And Horrible
A seventh-grade boy in Jackson Township, Ohio, shot himself in a school restroom last week; police said yesterday in a news conference that memos he'd written on his cell phone indicate he had planned to commit a mass shooting, but apparently changed his mind at the last moment and used the gun only on himself. The 13-year-old died later at a hospital.
The notes found on the phone, which the boy apparently didn't send to anyone else, suggest he began planning on Feb. 14 to shoot up his school, Jackson Memorial Middle School, about 50 miles south of Cleveland; of course, that's the same day as the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Police said the boy took the bus to school on Tuesday, Feb. 20, with a semiautomatic .22 caliber hunting rifle concealed under his clothes. At 7:44 he went into a bathroom. Surveillance video showed him coming out of the bathroom and brandishing the gun; nearby students didn't see him. He went back into the bathroom, where another kid saw the gun and ran to get a teacher; the boy then shot himself in the head. School faculty got to him by 7:50 and he was taken to a hospital, where he died a day later.
The boy's notes to himself are horrifying and heartbreaking. The boy wrote the day before the shooting that he'd "been planning this for a few weeks and thought about it a few months," and believed "this will be bigger than anything this country's ever seen." He fantasized about never being forgotten and becoming "a stain in American history" and his family's history, closing with, "it's going to be so much fun. They won't expect a thing."
The notes also suggest a fascination/identification with the Columbine school shooters, a lot of adolescent bravado, and a desire to just make everybody hurt as much as the boy himself:
Police said that in addition to the rifle, the boy had brought several bottle rockets -- apparently intended to be used as "distractionary devices" -- as well as an extra 80 rounds of ammunition, some in magazines.
The school superintendent, Chris DiLoreto, issued a statement yesterday to let parents know law enforcement would be in all the district's schools. DiLoreto also urged parents to monitor their children's social media use -- although in this particular case the boy had apparently not given any hint of his plans -- and reminding parents to secure their guns.
As my favorite college English prof said when we discussed Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," this story just scares the hell out of me. As a parent, a former education major and middle-school substitute teacher, and as a person who very long ago was depressed and didn't fit in during middle school, I can only wonder how this poor kid could have gotten help, how someone could have reached him, and I'm damned if I have any answers.
Listening sessions usually work better when you actually listen.
As we go to press, CNN is reporting that shots have been fired at a dorm at Central Michigan University. it's really not looking like more guns everywhere is really any kind of answer at all.
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