This past week, the world stopped once again. A shooter went crazy on the campus of Virginia Tech. Close to three dozen lives were snuffed out in mere moments. The world stopped for a day or two to stand in shock.
It took me back 8 years to a similar incident at Columbine High School. On the fateful day, I went over to our local high school and sat in the commons area with another clergy person and asked the question: "Could it happen here?"
Now on the surface that might sound a little silly. We live in a town of 1,200 with a total K-12 school population of about 650. It's not going to happen here.
Most of the students told me that they believe it could happen at their school. Some even told me who the shooter would be. Now, that part was scary. At that point, I thought it would be best to bring in someone who would know what to do. I called a friend of mine with the FBI and confided in him about what the kids had told me.
Later, I found out that the FBI had been doing some checking on this student who was mentioned and they found out some very interesting things. First of all, the student was a possible suspect if anything like this happened because of a number of reasons. One key reason was that a list was found with names on it.
That was pretty scary but when I found out that I was one of the names on the list that set me back a little. OK, a lot. You could have exactly that, a holy cow of a writer if the list proved to correct.
The friend of mine with the FBI said I should do nothing different than before and they would keep tabs on the student. I'd hope so.
Well, here it is years later and I have actually had time alone with the student who had "the list". We have had a number of conversations, even a lengthy conversation about the shooters at Columbine. We actually agreed on many things and what should be done to prevent another incident similar to that one.
A few years back we did have a situation with a parent coming to school demanding their child while wielding a gun. Yes, I was in on that one too. That was a day that I was the substitute teacher in first grade. At the time I knew I had the responsibility of 19 little lives. They had no idea what was going on except that they couldn't go out to recess. Meanwhile I was about to wet myself. I realize that you are not supposed to pray in school but I knew one substitute teacher that was offering up turbo-charged prayers.
Well it was a few hours later, actually about lunch time when the irate parent surrendered to authorities. When I got home after school, I knew I had earned my $75 pay.
Back to this week.
Virginia Tech's situation will spark copycats and debates on everything under the sun. The spin doctors will be out in force regarding campus security, gun control, notification rights of students, etc.
But for now, we are all in one boat. A rickety old boat on unstable waters. We all wonder if it could happen to us. Except me, I know it could.