[from my pre-weblog, 20 April 1999]
oday I got up in the late morning and instead of getting anything going I got sucked up in the ongoing disaster—a school shooting in Littleton, Colorado. At least two masked kids opened fire on the students there, killing fifteen people outright, apparently. Kids trapped in the school called out on mobile phones and watched events on cable. Local reporters optimistically assumed that because kids were escaping the school that nobody was actually dead—this despite one girl’s report of seeing classmates killed in the library, and having been spared for no obvious reason by the killers. And another kid’s account of students behind him in the hall being shot while he escaped. I saw no reason to suppose that people had not been killed; obviously the dead and seriously wounded would not be in any position to escape from the school. So I wasn’t really surprised when an official came up with a figure of about twenty-five dead—appalled, but not surprised. (The actual figure seems to have been lower, thank god, but things could easily have been worse, given the situation.)
The kids who did the killing are supposed to have been from a group unknown to the school officials but in the last yearbook whose members played war games and dressed in black. Very possibly none of this is true. The kids interviewed seemed to be fairly clueless; one of them said they reenacted World War Two battles (difficult, given that there were less than a dozen in the group, one would think), and another kid said they were homosexuals and part of some kind of homosexual conspiracy. Everybody agreed that the jocks picked on the group and harassed them mercilessly, which may explain why these two (if they were really members of this group) apparently picked on athletes. (It doesn’t however explain their targeting minorities.) Nobody interviewed seemed to think there was anything wrong with the jocks beating up on this group, with the apparent indifference of the school authorities, which make me wonder how idyllic this school really was, despite the pretty picture painted by some of the students and townspeople. It all sounded fairly dysfunctional to me. However.
In the end the SWAT team invaded the school (they were actually inside earlier than was evident in watching), liberated the trapped, and finally got to the library, which was a shambles. Both the kids that had done the killing were dead (reports that a third person was present are now being discounted; I can’t help wondering, as at least one girl early on gave a detailed description of one of the killers that doesn’t appear to match either of the two kids found dead—however), along with their victims. What a screwed-up mess.
One more sickening aspect of the thing was the grandstanding by local politicians—the governor of Colorado and others, who used the opportunity to get a little publicity and push their particular quack nostrums. Oh well, what can you expect? They’re only human. Like those two kids who came to school with an arsenal and blew away their classmates.