At around noon, just finishing a conference call, cell phone flashes CNN Alert: active shooting in San Bernardino. Shit, that’s 40 miles from here.
Turn on the news. It unfolds in the way that is clearly becoming far too familiar: people running from the scene, the obligatory helicopter shot / map overlay… “what do we know so far Bob?” / police combing the scene / “someone get me 5 terrorism experts – stat” / watch the body count go up.
New horror, new details, same format.
Except this time, new wrinkle: active shooters, escaped the scene…shooter(s) with an “s”…maybe 3…black SUV, on the move. Christ.
Sending texts to a friend, getting their perspective. You seeing this? Yeah, I’m at a mall. I’m outta here.
Pull up a map. What time did this happen. They were near two separate freeways, and on the move. Shit – how long would it take them to drive West toward us… even more soft targets closer to downtown LA?
They could be driving right past Pasadena right about now. Every third damn car is a black SUV in LA.
And then – “hey I’m getting texts something going down in Pasadena right now…”
What? Something about a shooting on Fair Oaks near the mall (2 miles from me). Oh no.
Something about locking down schools in Pasadena… Oh God. No… this can’t be happening…
Call the school / you guys seeing this? / yes we are all safe / no we are not on lock down / school will notify parents if any issue / yes other parents have called / no we have no way to validate the rumor about Pasadena… will let everyone know if we hear anything.
Scan every news channel on TV, CNN / MSNBC / FOX and 4 local stations. Everyone covering but nothing about Pasadena.
Grandma calls from across the country… “NBC in New York mentioning Pasadena.”
That’s it. Going to their school. It’s only a 5 minute drive. I don’t want to panic.
But I just saw this movie on TV. Two weeks ago on a Friday, a shooting in Paris unfolding in real time…
Now I AM starting to panic. What do I do? They think everything is ok right now, but how do they know that? Nobody knows anything right now!
Do I sit by, because I don’t want to cause a scene by pulling them out of school early?
Race down to the school while getting texts about Pasadena schools being surrounded by SWAT teams and locked down….oh my God…
Arrive at the school 30 mins before dismissal… street is empty… no car line… playground is empty… kids are all inside. Good. “Shelter in place.” No SWAT teams.
Circle the little residential neighborhood it sits in…all is calm. Just another clear, cool, sunny winter day in California.
I park my car in a red zone 15 yards from the front entrance, positioned so I can watch the two most accessible sides of the school from my car. Put my flashers on… could care less if a cop comes to give me a ticket. “Don’t you have something better to do right about now, officer?” would seem to be the correct response.
Put on NPR and check the cell phone, more stuff coming in. Shooters still on the loose.
But we’re good on this particular street at this particular moment, thank God.
I scan my mirrors. Every SUV, van, Uber black car that drives by, in either direction, I am looking at the driver…
I catch my breath. My heart begins to slow. I think of my kids inside, beautiful, young, innocent, oblivious. Can’t wait to hug them.
A text comes thru – Pasadena situation resolved, suspect in custody, unrelated to active shooting in San Bernardino…
It all feels surreal… is this the world we live in now?
Is this normal? Is this ok?
Why do we have to live like this?
What is our world coming to?
I pray for the victims and their families. Again.
Domestic? International? Workplace grudge? Columbine wannabes?
The facts will unfold later, after the kids are in bed.
Whatever the motive, the guns and the bullets are the same to the victims.
I wonder…. how close does it have to get to our own home and those we love, before we have had enough?
And how many has it already happened to?
Paris, Connecticut, South Carolina, Oregon, San Bernardino…. Pasadena?
When are we, as a country, as a people, as a generation, going to decide enough is enough?
No, all shooting can’t be stopped. And criminals can find ways to get guns. But why do we have to make it easier for them?
Maybe Paris has nothing to do with San Bernardino.
But the math doesn’t lie: countries with more guns have more shootings. Duh.
Our nation is drowning in guns, and sorry, but it wasn’t like this when we were growing up.
To be clear, I am cool with the 2nd Amendment. Self defense, hunting, etc.
And no, Obama the Kenyan Muslim Communist (who got Bin Laden) is not going to take away all your guns, paranoid freaks.
But hey – can’t we all agree to at least make it as hard to get an assault weapon as getting a driver’s license? Or getting on an airplane? Or voting in Kentucky?
And when the hell are we going to agree that easy access to an AR-15 and unlimited ammo and body armor is just not a great idea anymore?
Yes, I did go there. And don’t tell me “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Yeah? Well then heroin doesn’t kill people either, because “people kill people.” Or grenade launchers. Why shouldn’t everyone have access to as much heroin and grenade launchers as they want?
An AR-15 (or Smith & Wesson MMP, etc.) is for killing people, pure and simple. As many as efficiently as possible. An AR-15 round can penetrate a police car door, then go thru the cop’s bullet proof vest, thru his/her body, out the back of the vest, and thru another police car door.
Thank you for that little tidbit / soundbite from your expert, CNN.
By the way if you want to buy one online, here’s a link:
It has no other redeeming qualities, that outweigh the rapid death and destruction it is capable of, such that we should qualify it as a “necessary right” in a modern society.
It’s a weapon of war.
You want war on your street? Well you’re getting it, America.
I said this before, but let me say it again in big bold letters:
THE NRA HAS BRIBED AND THREATENED CONGRESS TO THE POINT THAT PURCHASING SUCH A WEAPON DOESN’T EVEN GET CHECKED AGAINST THE FBI’S TERRORISM WATCH LIST.
These are the same people that claim the mantle of “national security.”
And what will they say, again?
“Oh well, if they ALL had been packing heat, I bet those shooters wouldn’t have been so eager. The problem is we don’t have enough guns, and we have all these safe zones, too many “soft targets.”
Follow that to its logical conclusion…. They want us to “harden” every “target.” Sell us more death.
Sorry, but I don’t want to live in a world where you have to take a weapon to the local County Health Dept. employee’s holiday party with the bad buffet.
Wake up from this national nightmare, people.
Before this movie comes to a theater near you.
I got a tiny hint of what it might feel like today. And it’s a darkness none of us should ever have to live thru.
May God bless the victims and their families.