The latest school shooting this time in Sparks, NV, is another seemingly inexplicable tragedy ending in a popular and brave teacher trying to get a middle school student to lay down his gun winding up dead, two injured students, and the young shooter taking his own life. But it’s seemingly more inexplicable than several other school shootings since the shooter was described as a “nice kid” and not moody, angry or a seeming social outcast. CNN:
Before Monday morning, the gunman seemed like the antithesis of a school shooter.
“He was really a nice kid,” schoolmate Amaya Newton said. “He would make you smile when you were having bad day.”
But for whatever reason, the boy, whom authorities have not identified, took his parents’ handgun to school, a federal law enforcement source said.
“I believe it was because I saw him getting bullied a couple of times, and I think he took out his bullying,” Amaya said.
Amaya said she thought the two students at the Nevada school were friends of the shooter.
But “it’s too early to say whether he was targeting specific people or just going on an indiscriminate shooting spree,” Reno police Deputy Chief Tom Robinson said.
Schools today put a major emphasis on anti-bullying programs at all levels (yours truly does some of those programs in schools) because unlike 30 years ago, there is now an acute awareness that bullying can create intense pain and shame that can linger and impact a bullying victim for years, or can escalate into incidents such as this. It’s still too early to determine if bullying was the actual trigger here. And in the wake of this latest murder/suicide, there will be the usual questions raised about guns and homes where parents have them where kids can get at them.
But the larger question remains: why are youths so prone to turn to gun violence at schools now versus 30 years ago? Is it partially because school killings are now embedded in the culture due to news accounts and even some plots in films and television programs?
Meanwhile, CNN notes, the school and community mourns a retired Marine who had served his county — and in the end his kids at school — well and with courage:
True to his character, Mike Landsberry rushed to help others when chaos erupted.
The retired Marine, a popular math teacher at Sparks Middle School, tried to help when the two wounded students were shot.
A witness told the Reno Gazette-Journal that Landsberry was trying to intervene when the shooter killed him.
“That was the kind of person that Michael was,” his brother, Reggie Landsberry, told CNN. “He was the kind of person that if somebody needed help, he would be there.”
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini talked about the irony.
“It’s very unfortunate that (the life of) someone like that, who protected our country over there and came back alive … had to be taken at his work, at a school,” he said.
Scanner traffic calls:
KRNV news report on shootings:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.