On Edge — The Day My Son’s School Arrested A Potential Shooter
Today I picked up my son from his high school because there had been a credible threat to shoot up his school.
I won’t pretend to have any idea of what the families of kids in active shooter situations go through, nor do I want to ever know. This relatively minor incident hit plenty close enough to home for me.
This is from the voicemail I received this morning:
I want to let you know why we have a police presence on Your* High School campus this morning.
Yesterday a Your High School student was heard allegedly making a threatening statement against Your High School.
Students reported the situation to their families, who contacted authorities.
Immediately on hearing the alleged threat, [the]County Sheriff’s Office sent several detectives out to conduct multiple interviews. What they learned was enough to establish probable cause and led to the subsequent arrest of a juvenile.
The student is currently in custody and school is open today as usual. Our number one goal is to keep everyone safe, and without the arrest, we would have canceled school.
I was processing this when my son called me. He asked if I heard what was going on and when I did, he admitted he was feeling nervous. He then informed me that several kids were saying that the student was not working alone. I encouraged him to go talk to someone in administration if he believed anyone had names or more information. He said most of the kids didn’t think the police were doing enough. It didn’t seem like they were talking with anyone or doing anything except standing around. Then he told me that many kids were going home. I wondered if this was just an excuse to get to leave school early. I asked if he was calling to ask me to pick him up. He was.
I told him I’d be there in a few minutes.
Approaching the school, I saw a news van parked just outside the driveway. Inside the parking lot there were a couple of police vehicles and a group of three adults talking, one in full uniform. The atmosphere felt tense. Or maybe that was just me.
As I waited for my son to be called out of class, I chatted with the women in the office, asking if there was any more official word on what happened. There was not. They confirmed that many families were pulling their kids out of school for the day. We talked about how frustrating it was to not know how much of what the kids were saying was gossip versus fact. Was the student who made the threat working with others? Was this incident really over? Increased police presence was fine for today, but what about tomorrow, next week, next month?
What is it like for students to live with the constant threat that someone could come into their school and kill them and their classmates? When I was in school, that would have been a completely crazy thought, perhaps something out of the mind of Stephen King. Today, it happens on a regular basis. The average for this year is one per week. According to CNN,
A Washington Post article discusses many of the effects of living with such stress causes, including impacting brain development and lowering test scores.
It makes me angry that this is a reality my kids are growing up with.
I shouldn’t have to take my son home because he doesn’t feel safe. He was one among many. A local news channel interviewed several students who were upset, scared and said they, and their teachers, just couldn’t concentrate today. I certainly don’t blame them. Not only are they dealing with the fact that one of their own may have come close to shooting them and that there could be others he was making plans with, but also, a very bitter underlying message.
Despite nearly 300 school shootings in the past 8 years, our country is not doing anything to stop it. Our country has become too polarized to even see that common sense gun laws would help accomplish a goal we all have in common — to keep our kids safe. To quote Washington Post author Lisa L. Lewis, “maybe we should acknowledge the lesson we’re teaching our kids: We care more about their right to bear an AR-15 than we do about their safety and well-being.”
School should be a place of learning, but not of lessons like this.
*Not the actual name of the school.