The Impact of School Shootings
It seems everyday in America, parents face the dangers of sending our kids to school. Our biggest concern used to be worrying about their behavior in school. Wondering if they’re being respectful to teachers and their classmates. When they’re very young, we worry about them being taken care of by teachers and administrators, as we put their fate into the hands of these strangers.
But today, regardless of what age they are, we worry about them coming home safe and alive! That’s the impact that school shootings have placed on many parents in America now.
My son is 15 and a sophomore in high school. We live in a rural county in North Carolina. The kind of place where you wouldn’t think of worrying about school shootings. But there isn’t any place in the U.S. where you don’t worry about someone hitting a breaking point and responding with gun violence. Whither you’re out in the middle of no where, in a big city or a sprawling suburban area. No one is immune.
Last year, my son’s school had a lock down because of threats made to the county schools. It turned out the threats came from an incarcerated prisoner in the local regional jail. The anxiety that bomb threat instilled on students and parents was intense, for several days. Thankfully the local and state police resolved their investigation within a few days and the threat turned out to be a false threat. And during the investigation several parents kept their children out of school, in part because information provided was sparse and limited. But the damage was done. (Hickory Daily Record Nov. 2018)
This week on March 28, 2019, kids were scheduled to get out of school early for the end of the grading period. Out early on Thursday and off on Friday. We were looking forward to the short break. An extra day to sleep in, to do nothing and just relax. No chores, no studying, no homework. But before that could happen, there was a school lock down!
My son and I spent the morning texting. I was trying to find out when he gets out of school. But our texts quickly changed into something else entirely! Soon I was trying to make sure he was ok. Giving him encouragement to stay calm. All the while being scared to death and hoping beyond hope, that this wasn’t another active shooter incident in a high school!
When I dropped him off at 7:25am I told him to ask his teacher when they get out today and to send me a text. He didn’t. Which isn’t unusual for a teenage boy.
Do you get out at 12 or 12:30? 7:49am
|I don’t know yet 7:50am|
|Have you gotten a call from the school? Anything? 9:01am|
|Any news? 9:02am|
No call. No email. No message. 9:03am
|Can you call them and ask whats happening or is there no answer? 9:04am|
|Just ask your teacher. 9:04am|
|I can’t. 9:04am
FYI theres a two tone alarm going off over the speakers. 9:05am
|School lets out today at 12:30.
But I’m stuck in a corner like what I assume the other classes are doing. 9:07am
|Is this another practice lockdown? 9:08am|
|I don’t know. This has never happened. 9:08am|
|At that point, my heart dropped!
Have they said anything on the speakers? 9:08am
|Only a alarm has gone off over the speakers. 9:09am|
|Do you hear anything else going on outside the room? 9:09am|
|Well as long as you’re not hearing gun fire, then maybe it’s just a drill. 9:10am|
|It’s been 20 mins. 9:12am|
|Those few seconds / minutes between my sending him a text and
his response, start to become agonizing.
|This is either a mistake or somethings happened 9:12am|
|How long have drills lasted before? 9:12am|
|About 5-10 mins 9:12am|
|Is the teacher saying anything? 9:13am|
|Teacher doesn’t know whats happening. 9:13am|
|Just stay calm. 9:13am|
|Police at the school.
Dont know if its true or not. 9:14am
Someone got a text or something. 9:14am
|Ok. At least they’re already there. 9:14am|
|As long as you’re not hearing gunfire in a commotion outside your class, maybe things are contained. 9:15am
Are you on the first floor or upstairs in the school? 9:15am
Well hopefully that makes it harder for someone trying to do something to get up to where you and your classes are. 9:15am
Are you okay? 9:16am
Just worried. 9:16am
|Yes it’s something to worry about. Just stay calm so that you can think if something else does happen. 9:17am|
|Apparently cops are here. 9:17am
And a lot of them. 9:17am
|Are they outside your classroom or something? 9:17am|
|Then how do you know there’s a lot of them there? 9:17am|
|Just word is going around from multiple people. 9:18am
Apparently its a drill? 9:19am
|Well if it’s a drill then that’s a good thing. 9:19am
Who is saying that? 9:19am
|Teacher says it may be a drill 9:19am
something about a email. 9:19am
|Still sheltered? 9:21am|
alarm has been off for a bit 9:21am
|Does your teacher seem worried? 9:23am|
|Not anymore i think 9:23am
Can’t see her im facing a wall. 9:23am
|What’s between you and the door? 9:24am|
|A massive desk 9:26am|
|Are there kids between you and the desk? 9:25am
There’s nothing on TV, the news 9:26am
Have you told dad? 9:26am
|Yes, he’s on his way here to bring me some cash for your golf lessons. 9:26am
I was just getting ready to go take a shower. Now I don’t know if I should.
|Just wait. 9:28am|
|Well I’m waiting 9:28am|
|Apparently its a malfunction 9:29am|
|Who says 9:29am|
|other people 9:29am
But some still say it’s not a drill 9:29am
|Yeah you can’t believe the rumors from other kids, because I guarantee you they don’t know anymore than you or I do. 9:30am|
|Can you tell dad to reroute himself to the school? 9:30am|
|Doesn’t matter where he’s going, he’s still on his way in this direction. 9:30am
Is it still quiet in the hall way? 9:33am
|I heard boots and “manly” voices. 9:33am
so theres probably cops in the hallway 9:33am
|Well that’s a good thing. 9:34am
I’m going to jump in the shower and get dressed.
My phone is right next to the shower. Keep talking to me. 9:35am
|Okay I’m out of the shower. Getting dressed to come down there. 9:40am|
|Theres cops going door to door now. 9:41am
Room got cleared 9:41am
|Are they saying anything or just checking on everybody? 9:41am|
|the cops seemed really pissed off. 9:42am
theyre checking on people 9:42am
|If they’re really pissed off then it wasn’t a drill. 9:42am
Or just intense? 9:43am.
I need some feedback. 9:46am
|I think they’re pissed 9:46am
One of them looked like a state cop or sherif 9:46am
some high ranking person and they were not happy. 9:46am
Also, had his gun unholstered. 9:47am
So doubt it was a drill 9:47am
|Ok that sounds like it’s not a drill 9:47am
And it sounds like they’re upset and intense.
Not necessarily angry or pissed. 9:48am
|word is going around that someone was arrested 9:48am|
|Yeah you can’t believe the word going around. 9:48am
Just follow directions until you get the all clear. Please. 9:49am
|I’m almost ready. 9:49am|
|I’m calling your dad. hold on. 9:49am|
|Yeah sounds like its true. 9:50am
someone here and at east (middle school) got arrested 9:50am
|Are you still sheltered in place? 9:52am|
|No were sitting at our desks 9:52am|
|Is the door to the classroom open or closed. 9:53am|
|Closed. The cops told us to wait. 9:53am|
|Ok Your dad is 30minutes away from the house.
But still on his way this direction. 9:54am
I don’t know if I should come get you or wait. 9:54am
|Just wait 9:54am
Yeah somethings happened 9:55am
100+ are listening to this counties police scanner 9:56am
100+ people 9:56am
|I didn’t think about turning that on. what are they saying 9:56am|
|I would but don’t have headphones.
Someone else already did anyways. 9:57am
|Ok what did they say? 9:57am|
|I couldn’t hear 9:57am|
|Ok hold on I’ll turn mine on 9:57am|
|but apparently they called in cops from Iredell too 9:57am|
|Ok it’s up. They’re not saying anything. there’s a 160 listeners 9:58am|
|Its been confirmed, it wasn’t a drill 9:59am
Worse part is this happened on the day we were supposed to have county wide drills. 10am
|They just let the county school administrator into the front door. 10am
Officer call number 529 said there’s some people there and
|So they’re just now staging? 10:08am|
|It sounds like maybe it’s the EMT and Fire? Not sure 10:09am
Could also be State Police Investigators 10:09am
|EMT was here already 10:09am
news crew got here too, just now 10:09am
|then it’s probably some kind of State Police 10:09am
Oh, maybe it was the press they’re staging out front then 10:09am
|Dispatch said they still have officers coming in from off-duty
do you still want them there? And dispatch was told to
send them to the road for traffic control. 10:11am
Your dad is home 10:11am
|What’s happening there 10:14am|
Apparently according to someone I don’t necessarily trust,
|Not sure I buy that. They just wouldn’t put you on a bus. they would just put in the parking lot or football field. something like that. 10:17am|
|they’re not saying much on the radio.10:19am|
|They probably switched off of county wide radio and
used on for their staging. 10:19am
|Maybe. Right now they’re sending fire to a house fire. 10:20am
Just said they’re redirecting traffic, because there’s a ton
A policeman said they ought to be clear here in a minute 10:22am
Leaving the house and coming out there. 10:23am
|Yeah I’ve been hearing that too. 10:23am|
|I can’t drive with my reading glasses on.
So if you text me I won’t be able to read it.
But I’m on my way. 10:25am
|Ok I’m here. They won’t let me in the usual way.
I have to go around to the main gate.
There’s a loooong line of cars trying to get in. 10:41am
|Although it was a malfunction someone did get arrested here.
There’s a audio clip of cops yelling at someone to put their
hands up 10:44am
|Ok, they’re letting me in. See you in a second! Love you! 10:55am|
Thank goodness our experience turned out to be an unknown alarm malfunction, that’s still being investigated. The entire county police department had turned out for the alarm. And yes they did call in support from Iredell County, next door. By the time I arrived, the Fire Trucks had left and there was still one EMT truck remaining. Parents were hugging their kids as they walked through the parking lot from the school. I was never so glad to see my teenager!
He was a little more shaken up than he let on in his text messages. But he did say, those texts were helpful. There were several kids in his class who were shaking and very scared, he told me once he was safely inside the car. They all seemed to calm down as they shared the texts from their parents with each other in their huddled gathering.
Bottom line is, this country must do something about mental health and gun violence. The next school lock down, may not be an alarm malfunction. We owe it to our children to make the necessary changes to keep everyone safe, inside and outside of their schools!
I would like to send out a huge thank you to the Alexander County Sheriff’s department, the entire school staff and the other First Responders for reacting so quickly and getting to the school. Your service is appreciated and admired!
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