The Reality of School Shootings Hits Close to Home

Huda Khan

On Thursday November 14, 2019 at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, there was a shooting that resulted in two dead and three injured. The gunman, Nathaniel Berhow, attacked on his 16th birthday. The police were called at 7:38am, and arrived in two minutes. Standing in the school courtyard, he opened fire with a .45-calibre semi-automatic pistol. “He just fires from where he is. He doesn’t chase anybody. He doesn’t move,” said Captain Kent Wegener, the sheriff on the scene. He shot for about 16 seconds, before shooting himself. The students were barricaded in their classrooms for about an hour as the police determined there was no more threat. 

Six people were found hurt from gunshot wounds. A 16-year-old girl, and a 14-year-old boy were the two victims who did not survive. Two girls aged 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy were injured, and are now in stable condition. The gunman had no connection to the victims. The suspect was said to be smart, was a boy scout, and had a girlfriend. He came from a modest home, but his father died about two years ago. A neighbor reportedly said that the boy was struggling with his father’s death. There is no known motive behind the shooting. 

On Friday November 15, 2019 in Clifton VA, a threatening text was sent out to a student in Liberty middle school, causing a wave of worry. The text was sent out at around 6:55am, and the student posted it on social media. After seeing the post, some of the students got off the bus and went back home because of safety concerns. The students notified their parents before the school was notified, but once the school was aware they sent out an email at around 9:07am. The email clarified that they were aware of the situation, and that the Fairfax County Police Department and Office of Safety and Security (OSS) were at the school investigating the situation. 

After the email was sent out many worried parents came to pick up their kids. The school continued with their regular schedule, but they added extra security and police on school grounds. Another email was sent out to parents to update them on the situation at around 11:58am. The school took precautions, and remained alert throughout the school day. Thankfully, the school had ended the day without any threatening experiences. A follow-up email was sent at around 5:14pm assuring that the school day had been finished “without any additional disruptions.” The email clarified what had happened and that there hadn’t been any lockdowns during the school day. It also advised parents to talk to their children about their online behavior and other sensitive topics. 

When going to pick up my brother, I walked in on multiple little kids crying, and parents comforting their kids. “I was so scared, I thought I’d never see my family again,” said one of the students, 12 years old. Tears in their eyes, kids walked into the room running and hugging their parents. “I had to come pick up kid as soon as I heard, it was not a risk I was willing to take, this is absolutely ridiculous,” said a parent who left her job to get her kid. Another parent said “Students should not have to go through these kinds of worries, and parents shouldn’t have to be afraid for their kids lives being at risk in a school.” 

On Sunday November 17, 2019 there was a second threat directed to Chantilly High School, but was later said to be a joke. A student sent out an instagram story to students threatening to shoot up the school the next day. The threat was also said on an online video game called Minecraft, stating that on Friday, November 22, 2019 they would shoot up the school. A concerned parent had contacted the school the day the threat had been sent. The school was not closed the next day, and an email was sent out assuring that the Police and OSS had been contacted and were investigating. 

The school had increased police security around the school. Security was walking in and checking in each class continuously. Later another email was sent out regarding the video game threat. The student had been identified and was being interviewed by the police. The student clarified that the threat was a joke, and he had no intention of carrying it out. The email stated that the threats have been resolved and school will continue according to normal schedule. It told parents to emphasize the importance of threats to their children, and said that “all threats are taken seriously.”

School shootings and threats have been happening at an alarming rate. The safety of students and teachers has increasingly become an important issue that lawmakers have attempted to tackle.