Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tragedy in a Baltimore School

I decided that I needed to comment on tragedy which occurred in a local high school this week--a 15 year old boy allegedly (OK, they saw him do it) shot another student in the lunch room on the first day of school.

The school? Perry Hall High School--with over 2100 kids the largest high school in Baltimore county.

The weapon? A shot gun.

The shooter? A troubled boy, who reportedly was bullied and comes from a problem filled home and life.

The tragedy? This is a far reaching tragedy which includes first and foremost the boy who was shot and is in critical condition at a local hospital, his family, the students of the school, the community. The tragedy is in the lives destroyed by this incident.

A sensational article in the Baltimore Sun really got me going, and on my soap box about irresponsible reporting. Apparently everyone is to blame for this shooting--from parents and step parents, to everyone who knew this kid and even those of us reading the article after the fact should have intervened it seems. I'm not sure if the article placed any blame on the shooter.

The article in the Baltimore Sun begins:

Charged as an adult in the Perry Hall High School shooting, 15-year-old Robert Wayne Gladden Jr., was held without bond Tuesday as a portrait of a withdrawn and occasionally bullied student with a troubled home life emerged through interviews with classmates and court documents.

The article goes into a very detailed look at not only his life, but the lives of everyone associated with him. Their lives, and mostly their failings, are laid out for everyone with even a passing curiosity to read and ponder. I felt that some of the details presented passed beyond responsible news reporting and into the realm of tabloid sensationalism.

Did I find it interesting that the shooter's step Dad was arrested later that same day after police searched his house and found marijuana and firearms? Turns out the step Dad is a convicted felon and it is against the law for him to possess firearms. Is it germane to the situation? No, because as the article continues, the shot gun used in the shooting came from his Dad's house where he "sometimes stayed."

For the gun control advocates--BTW--there is a data point that gun control doesn't work.

Another news agency, Business Insider, provided a more balanced view of the shooter and his motives.

Interestingly, another article suggests that the student that was shot was a bystander and the shooting occurred after the gun was discharged at the ceiling for effect and subsequently went off as he was being tackled. This is the only article I could find about the incident and really changed my perception of the events.

This incident is a tragedy. We may never know the real reason that this young man decided, with some premeditation, to take a disassembled shotgun and some vodka to school that day. But, the desperation that many people are facing in today's world is reflected in his face and his actions. And everyone around him suffers as a result.

Pray for everyone involved in this tragedy. They need hope. And don't forget to pray for the recovery of the shooting victim and for his family. They are the true victims of this tragedy.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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