9:20 a.m. Screams follow the unexpected gunshots fired out of a .22 caliber handgun carried by 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams.
Reaction: What could have possibly motivated a 15-year-old kid to carry a gun to school, taking the lives of two people, harming another 13?
9:30 a.m. The sheriff’s department arrives at the high school, where upon searching the restroom, they find the assailant. Williams is taken into custody.
Reaction: Whom do we blame? The child, the parent, the school or the media?
In our own efforts to justify what happened on Monday at approximately 9:20 a.m. at Santana High School, we tend to point the finger in any direction we can. Most likely the majority of the people will point their fingers at the 15-year-old gunman who was responsible for the tragedy. However, another portion of the population will look beyond the adolescent, and place the blame on his parent.
Regardless of where we feel the blame should lie, there is a more important theme that needs to be addressed. This event, taken as another wake-up call, is a sign of the times we live in. We, as a society, have bred killers. Whether they are ‘killer dogs’ from San Francisco, ‘crazed otters’ off the coast of Monterey Bay, or more importantly 15-year-old children who believe honor and respect is something projected from the barrel of a handgun, we have continued to produce killers.
I remember being dropped off at school when I was 15-years-old. To be precise, I was a slightly overweight freshman at the high school up the street. I was most likely seen carrying my trumpet and/or my skateboard to class with me. I am not going to sit here and write about how bad high school was, how I hated everyone at my school, or how I wished I were somebody else. What I do want to mention is that I remember being insecure about myself. My insecurities, like most teenagers, were hidden by a blanket of over confidence.
I watched silently as my close friends, at that time, picked on people. They called them names and talked crap about everyone who crossed their paths. As self-proclaimed skaters, we hated “jocks” and “preps” and weren’t fond of the “hippies” either. It was merely a battle of insecurity.
Ironically, I shared many of the interests that the gunman at Santana High School had, and am willing to over generalize that the majority of people reading this column have felt the same emotions too. However, most of us were able to deal with our feelings. Some of us found it was sports, for others it was dance or cheer, for me it was music.
For Williams, however, his battles were more extreme. I am in no way justifying his actions or ignoring what he did. I am however, addressing the fact that we often become jaded to the emotions we can evoke. Williams was teased and picked on throughout his high school experience and eventually he took action. It’s a one-way food chain, but where do you go when you are at the bottom?
Williams, had nowhere to go but try to fight his way to the top. As a result, opened fire on the quad. Ultimately he must have felt he would earn the respect of his peers, or more simply through the shooting, make them fear him.
The cause: Feelings of insecurity and the fear of being tormented from his peers for the rest of his life.
The effect: Gunshots being fired to salvage any bit of self-respect he had left.
The result: Two children dead, and another 13 injured.
Tom Galaraga, a junior journalism major, is assistant managing editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.