Lydster: talking about school shootings

January 17, 1989, in Stockton, California

Active Shooter DrillsAt the end of the summer, my daughter was waiting for her friends, who were late. She calls me at home, and she brings up the subject of school shootings.

She wanted to know if I had to think about these things growing up. Heck, no, but I’m better than a half-century older than she is. This got me to look up the Wikipedia page for List of school shootings in the United States. Ah, such a convenient tracking of carnage.

There were shootings back in the 19th century, but most involved zero to two casualties. An exception took place on March 30, 1891, in Liberty, Mississippi when “an unknown gunman fired a double-barreled shotgun into the mixed audience, made up of black and white students, parents and teachers. Fourteen people were wounded, some seriously.”

Six were killed in a melee in Charleston, West Virginia on December 13, 1898. I’ve written about the 1966 University of Texas shooting, the first crime of its sort that I remembered.

20th century

Hmm, they counted Kent State and Jackson State from 1970. I have no recollection of the December 30, 1974, Olean (NY) shooting that killed 3 and injured 11.

The worst shooting in the 1980s was on January 17, 1989, in Stockton, California. A 24-year-old fatally shot five children and wounded 32 others at an elementary school, before taking his own life. “The victims were children of refugees from Southeast Asia.” The shooter “had a history of violence, alcoholism, and drug addiction, and criminality.”

Then April 20, 1999: Littleton, Colorado, with 15 dead, including the two shooters, 21 wounded. I had to admit to my daughter that I had managed to forget the March 21, 2005 incident at Red Lake, Minnesota, where five students, one teacher, and one security guard were killed, wounding seven others, after the shooter previously killed a couple of relatives.

I do remember the guy who killed five Amish girls in Pennsylvania in 2006. The Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 made the international news. Then Newtown, CT; Parkland, FL; Santa Fe, TX. I remember that my daughter was particularly upset by Santa Fe after she and her classmates protested following Parkland.

How stressful her life, and the lives of her friends, must be. She so related to the disturbing Sandy Hook Promise ad here or here or here.

We had duck and cover, but I don’t think we took it too seriously. They have active shooter drills, and they have reason to believe it COULD happen “here.”