Three years ago, I was confined at home having gone down with the flu. I could not attend classes and the best I could do was watch television and scroll through my Facebook and Twitter timelines. Social media was more interesting than the television, causing me to turn it off and check what I had missed during my busy days. I noticed an update from one of my friends that there was a shooting and hostage situation at a school that was only six blocks from my house. This caught my interest, having heard numerous similar incidents on tv. However, the other school shooting incidents had happened in far off places making me less interested in them. This was happening in my neighborhood, making it appear real and terrifying at the same time. I knew several kids who went to that school personally. Naturally, I got concerned about their safety.
The incident at the school became the trending topic on my social media circles. I became interested, as I wanted to know who was involved and the outcome of the incident. The updates I was seeing on Facebook and Twitter were scanty and fragmented as everyone gave their version of what was taking place. I switched from social media and turned on the television. Interestingly enough, the incident at the school was the breaking news on most of the channels. I noticed that the news on television was more precise and detailed compared to the reports I was receiving from social media and decided to stick with it. According to the news reports, there was a lone gunman in the school who was suspected to also be a student of the institution. He had allegedly shot five of his classmates and a teacher and taken the rest of the class hostage. He was demanding to be given safe passage from the school on a helicopter or he would shoot the rest of the students in that class.
Watching the events unfold on the television made me realize that what is observed in films is far from what happens in real life. It seemed to take too long to negotiate with the shooter. His demand also sounded outrageous and revealed that he was also a rookie. The shooter was identified. Shock on me, he was a young man I knew. He was the silent type, and would always respond shyly whenever I greeted him. I had earlier on held the impression that he must be getting bullied a lot at school. His demand for safe passage out of the institution was a sign of him not willing to die in the chaos he had caused. One of the negotiators, a member of the local law enforcement department, claimed the fact that the shooter wanted to get out alive made him less dangerous.
The reports given on the television regarding the incident were well curated. The only signs of violence shown to the viewers were bullet holes and broken glass on the widows. The police dealing with the situation were also talking with the journalists periodically to give assurance to the affected families. The negotiations with the shooter took twelve hours extending into the night. This whole time, the school had been evacuated and surrounded by armed police officers. The shooter did not kill any other person and surrendered after running out of options. The young man later confessed that he killed his classmates for having bullied him. The teacher got shot while trying to prevent the shooter from getting to his intended targets. The reporters on the television reviewed the past of the shooter and concluded that he must have suffered mental problems for not fitting well in school and the bullying. Witnessing all this in the comfort of my house made me wonder about how lucky I was to have technology that would give me access to such a story without getting involved physically. After the incident, I made a mental not never to bully anyone, as that could be putting myself in danger should the victim avenge.