Newtown Shooting

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61 in 30 years: A timeline of mass shootings in America
December 15, 2012

On Friday morning, 27 people were reportedly shot and killed  at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT. According to sources, 18 of these casualties were children. This is the second mass shooting in the US this week, after a gunmanopened fire  in an Oregon shopping mall on Tuesday, killing 2. ABC News reports that there have been 31 school shootings in the US since Columbine in 1999, when 13 people were killed.

The rate of people killed by guns in the US is  19.5 times higher  than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders . Below is a timeline of mass shootings in the US since the Columbine High massacre:

  • December 11, 2012. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts  killed 2 people and himself with a stolen rifle in Clackamas Town Center, Oregon. His motive is unknown.
  • September 27, 2012. Five were  shot to death  by 36-year-old Andrew Engeldinger at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, MN. Three others were wounded. Engeldinger went on a rampage after losing his job, ultimately killing himself.
  • August 5, 2012. Six Sikh temple members were killed  when 40-year-old US Army veteran Wade Michael Page opened fire in a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Four others were injured, and Page killed himself.
  • July 20, 2012. During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO, 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people  and wounded 58. Holmes was arrested outside the theater.
  • May 29, 2012. Ian Stawicki opened fire  on Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle, WA, killing 5 and himself after a citywide manhunt.
  • April 6, 2012. Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, shot 5 black men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in racially motivated shooting spree. Three died.
  • April 2, 2012. A former student, 43-year-old One L. Goh killed 7 people  at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college in Oakland, CA. The shooting was the sixth-deadliest school massacre in the US and the deadliest attack on a school since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
  • October 14, 2011. Eight people died in a shooting at Salon Meritage  hair salon in Seal Beach, CA. The gunman, 41-year-old Scott Evans Dekraai, killed six women and two men dead, while just one woman survived. It was Orange County’s deadliest mass killing.
  • September 6, 2011. Eduardo Sencion, 32, entered an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, NV and shot 12 people. Five died, including three National Guard members.
  • January 8, 2011. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head  when 22-year-old Jared Loughner opened fire on an event she was holding at a Safeway market in Tucson, AZ. Six people died, including Arizona District Court Chief Judge John Roll, one of Giffords’ staffers, and a 9-year-old girl. 19 total were shot. Loughner has been sentenced to seven life terms plus 140 years, without parole.
  • August 3, 2010. Omar S. Thornton, 34, gunned down  Hartford Beer Distributor in Manchester, CT after getting caught stealing beer. Nine were killed, including Thornton, and two were injured.
  • November 5, 2009. Forty-three people were shot  by Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan at the Fort Hood army base in Texas. Hasan reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar!” before opening fire, killing 13 and wounding 29 others.
  • April 3, 2009. Jiverly Wong, 41, opened fire  at an immigration center in Binghamton, New York before committing suicide. He killed 13 people and wounded 4.
  • March 29, 2009. Eight people died in a shooting  at the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home in Carthage, NC. The gunman, 45-year-old Robert Stewart, was targeting his estranged wife who worked at the home and survived. Stewart was sentenced to life in prison.
  • February 14, 2008. Steven Kazmierczak, 27,  opened fire  in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University, killing 6 and wounding 21. The gunman shot and killed himself before police arrived. It was the fifth-deadliest university shooting in US history.
  • February 7, 2008. Six people died and two were injured in a  shooting spree  at the City Hall in Kirkwood, Missouri. The gunman, Charles Lee Thornton, opened fire during a public meeting after being denied construction contracts he believed he deserved. Thornton was killed by police.
  • December 5, 2007. A 19-year-old boy, Robert Hawkins,  shot up  a department store in the Westroads Mall in Omaha, NE. Hawkins killed 9 people and wounded 4 before killing himself. The semi-automatic rifle he used was stolen from his stepfather’s house.
  • April 16, 2007. Virginia Tech became the site of the  deadliest school shooting  in US history when a student, Seung-Hui Choi, gunned down 56 people. Thirty-two people died in the massacre.
  • February 12, 2007. In Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square Mall, 5 people were  shot to death  and 4 others were wounded by 18-year-old gunman Sulejman Talović. One of the victims was a 16-year-old boy.
  • October 2, 2006. An Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster, PA was  gunned down  by 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts, Roberts separated the boys from the girls, binding and shooting the girls. 5 young girls died, while 6 were injured. Roberts committed suicide afterward.
  • March 25, 2006. Seven died and 2 were injured by 28-year-old Kyle Aaron Huff in a shooting spree  through Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA. The massacre was the worst killing in Seattle since 1983.
  • March 21, 2005. Teenager Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend before  opening fire  on Red Lake Senior High School, killing 9 people on campus and injuring 5. Weise killed himself.
  • March 12, 2005. A Living Church of God meeting was  gunned down  by 44-year-old church member Terry Michael Ratzmann at a Sheraton hotel in Brookfield, WI. Ratzmann was thought to have had religious motivations, and killed himself after executing the pastor, the pastor’s 16-year-old son, and 7 others. Four were wounded.
  • July 8, 2003. Doug Williams, a Lockheed Martin employee,  shot up  his plant in Meridian, MI in a racially-motivated rampage. He shot 14 people, most of them African American, and killed 7.
  • September 15, 1999. Larry Gene Ashbrook  opened fire  on a Christian rock concert and teen prayer rally at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX. He killed 7 people and wounded 7 others, almost all teenagers. Ashbrook committed suicide.
  • July 29, 1999. Mark Orrin Barton, 44,  murdered his wife and two children with a hammer before shooting up two Atlanta day trading firms. Barton, a day trader, was believed to be motivated by huge monetary losses. He killed 12 including his family and injured 13 before killing himself.
  • April 20, 1999. In the deadliest high school shooting in US history, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Kiebold  shot up Columbine High School  in Littleton, CO. They killed 13 people and wounded 21 others. They killed themselves after the massacre.
Source

The following is an excerpt from Kaitlin Roig’s book, Choosing Hope, describing the moment Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. She was the first grade teacher in classroom 12, the one adjacent to Victoria Soto’s:

“First comes the initial blast of gunfire, then the sounds of shattering glass. The hair on my arms stands up. I know right away what I am hearing. Columbine is happening in the place we called Pleasantville. How can it be? Someone with a weapon is shooting their way into our perfect school. My classroom is the first one in the building. We are in grave danger, I think, sitting targets. I jump up, run to the door, pull it closed, and switch off the lights. Thank God for the piece of dark blue construction paper I taped to the door window months ago in preparation for a lockdown drill and forgot to take down. I can’t lock the door. My keys are clear across the room, on top of my desk, and there’s no time to fetch them. For what? A locked door is no match for a magazine of bullets. If we’re going to live, we have to find a hiding place. Fast. I look around the classroom. My students don’t seem to understand what is happening. One, the little girl I call our fashionista, because she wears things like leopard prints and leggings, stands there smiling. I can’t tell if she is somehow oblivious to the sounds or scared frozen. The windows don’t open wide enough for a first-grader to climb through, and who knows what or who is waiting outside? Evil is coming for us and there’s nowhere to go.

Where can we hide? Where can we hide? There’s only one place. The bathroom - a tiny, tiny first grade-sized lavatory with only a toilet and a toilet-paper dispenser inside. Its dimensions are about the size of two first-grade desks pushed together. Maybe three feet by four feet. There is so little space that the sink is on the outside, in the classroom. I have never even been inside of the bathroom before. An adult wouldn’t fit comfortably. How in God’s name will I get sixteen of us in there? It is our only chance. The impossible will have to become possible.

Everything is happening so quickly. We are under siege. I turn to my students, who look up at me with pleading eyes. ‘Into the bathroom! Now!’ I say.

At first they protest. ‘In there?’ ‘How?’ ‘Why?’ ‘What do you mean, Miss Roig?’

‘Bathroom! Now!’ I say, repeating myself. They understand that the teacher means business. I rush them toward the back of the classroom. Shots are being fired outside our classroom door. There’s no time. ‘Hurry!’ I say, pushing them into the tiny space with the toilet in the center. ‘Hurry!’ But I know that no matter how quickly my students respond, it will still take two or three minutes to get everyone inside, minutes I feel sure we don’t have.

We all push into the bathroom, and when there isn’t a millimeter of space left, I begin lifting my students and piling them inside. I place one student, then two, then three on top of the toilet and hoist up my littlest girl and sit her on the toilet-paper dispenser. We are all crushed together with not even enough room left to take a deep breath. I reach out to pull the door closed, but the door isn’t there. Oh my God. In my rush to try to save us, I didn’t even notice. The door opens into the bathroom. We are blocking it with our bodies. I feel myself beginning to panic. Here we are, stuffed into a room, with a madman bearing down on us, and the door that is supposed to hide us is obstructed by us and can’t close.

My heart pounds against my chest, but I cannot afford to lose my composure, not if we are to have a chance of getting out of this alive. First-graders model their teacher’s behavior. If I panic, they’ll all panic, and we’ll be dead. One by one, I pick up the students who are blocking the door and move each one behind it until I am finally able to push it closed. But just before I do, I reach outside for a large storage cabinet on wheels that is nearby and pull it as close as I can to the front of the bathroom door, hoping that maybe it will conceal the door. ‘Now,’ I say, ‘We have to be absolutely quiet. We can’t say a word.’ I can’t help but wonder if, by trapping us in the bathroom, I have just sentenced us to certain death. What if the shooter realizes that the storage cabinet is a ruse and shoots right through it?

Someone shouts, ‘Shooter! Stay put!’ Is that our principal? The school nurse? Another teacher? The sounds are too muffled to tell. Then, ear-splitting, rapid-fire shots, like a machine gun - di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di - over and over and over. We hear pleading. My students stay perfectly quiet. First-graders are black -and white. They understand that someone very bad is searching for us and in order for us not to be discovered they stay perfectly quiet. In our silence, we hear voices, although whose is unclear. They are muffed voices. People are pleading for their lives. ‘No!’ Please, no! Please! No!’ If my students are to keep even relatively calm, they must not know that my insides are shaking and I’m sure we are all about to die. It’s a very difficult thing, putting on a cool front in the midst of what I know is life and death. With the inescapable sounds of carnage happening all around us, my little ones are feeling desperate. ‘What is happening?’ one of them whispers. My fashionista begins to cry. I cup her face in my hands and look into her teary eyes. ‘We’re going to be okay,’ I promise. I never make promises I can’t keep, especially not to children, but this is a matter of life and death. The boy who straddles the top of the toilet is shaking so hard that he accidentally flushes. Once, then again. We all hold our breath. Shhhhhhhhhh!!!!! Did the shooter hear? I look at the boy and his face says it all. I’m scared and I’m sorry and I don’t know what to do. ‘Miss Roig, I don’t want to die today,’ one of my students whispers. ‘I just want my mom,’ another one says, fighting tears. ‘I don’t want to die before Christmas,’ says my student who has been talking about the holiday for months. We are squeezed together like fingers in a tight fist. My kids want out of this sweltering, sealed-up box we’re in. ‘I’ll lead the way!’ one of the boys whispers. ‘I know karate,’ says another boy. Hadn’t it been only moments ago that he told us the story of finding a dollar under his pillow for his two front teeth? ‘No,’ I say gently. ‘There are bad guys out there and we need to wait for the good guys to come.’ I can’t bear to think that their last moments will be spent this way: in fear. I must reassure them, even though I don’t believe my own words. ‘It’s going to be okay. We’re going to be okay,’ I say. Then, because I believe that death is imminent and I want to do whatever I can to make them feel safe, I tell them how much they have meant to me. ‘I need you to know that I love you all very much,’ I say. In comforting them, I have also brought comfort to myself. ‘Anyone who believes in the power of prayer needs to pray right now,’ I say, ‘and anyone who does not needs to think really happy thoughts.’ I put my hands together and start to pray. The kids are too crammed together to move their arms, but most of them close their eyes and I assume they are following my instruction. The shooting continues. Now I am prepared to die.”

Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A four-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday. Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year – violence that we cannot accept as routine.
—  President Obama, announcing an initiative to study and push for new gun control measures today at the White House.

‘’I hate going through these extremely rare instances of wild mood swings that I have. I think this was the only time this year for me. I was as depressed as I get during my last post, and I’m fine with the interminable depression that I normally have, but now I’m incoherently giddy with glee. Well, relative to my baseline… Except now that I’m giddy, I can’t really say that I hate it because I think everything is delightful.

If depressives cut themselves to feel better, I wonder what cutting a happy-go-lucker would do. Santa’s supposed to be jolly. I hope he visits me tonight so I can find out.‘‘

White Male Terrorist Violence, White Supremacy and The Media

In regards to Sandy Hook and all of the other recent White male terrorist-lead mass murders, many of the conversations among people of colour have been about the media narratives used to reinforce White supremacy when White men commit terrorist acts. I’ve seen memes that compare how overly kind and respectful the media has been towards Adam Lanza’s memory and he was a White male terrorist, versus Trayvon Martin, a Black male victim. There’s no need to compare how White male criminals’ media narratives are shaped versus Black male criminals. That’s beyond obvious. Black men, innocent or guilty, honest citizen or criminal have been demonized for centuries (and the dehumanization adapted as the technology did. Think Birth of a Nation. Now think of 24-hour news, print media, social media, local news, government policy etc.) No need to travel down that obvious road.

Seeing the visual memes that compare Lanza’s media versus Martin’s are traumatic for me. I understand the point that some people of colour are trying to make; I just…can’t even view them for too long. Hurts bad. The level of utter disregard and disdain for Black life in America is reinforced by both the government, the right arm of oppression and the media/Hollywood, the left arm of oppression. Citizens stand in the middle with surveys revealing how more than half of Whites have negative opinions of Black people, how Whites were angry over any Trayvon coverage, not nuanced views of that coverage–that it was primarily negative and bigoted, what many Black people were angry about, and their one-by-one attacks on Black people by hyper-vigilant White males and the police. Black people suffering with poverty and internalized White supremacy become our own executioners as well.

Because of the disgustingly bigoted history and present in this country, I expect the massive discrepancy in media coverage and what motivates legislative talk, when it comes to race. Black/other people of colour (and even some White people) who know nothing about critical race theory, don’t critique media, don’t pay any attention to any of this can SEE this now. This is how obvious White supremacy has become. No critical analysis needed. (This is good, in context. Conversations must go beyond the academic world.) It is so BLATANT and obvious that random joes on the streets…literally…start conversations with me about White supremacy and media, even if they don’t use the “academic” terms (which are not needed anyway. Academia is not needed to validate their truthful observations and how it impacts their lives.) It’s sickeningly obvious. This country is ILL. (The first time I noticed random people discussing media bigotry was the Olympics. It was so blatant that even those who either aren’t aware or pretend racism/sexism doesn’t exist could pretend no longer.)

However, what has become (disgustingly) fascinating is the media framing of Lanza and these White victims. Again, I’m fully aware of the hatred and disdain for Black life and existence in America. However, I did not expect to see Lanza held at the esteem level of the White victims. The White victims. I noticed this with Aurora as well. And the Penn State abuse case till the very end. And previous shootings. (Other than the “othering” done to these men via mental illness labeling, barely a harsh word is uttered about them.) And then, I re-realized something important. White supremacy itself is more important than any individual life, even a White one. (i.e. individual White soldiers die to uphold American imperialism, white supremacy and xenophobia.) To truly critique Lanza for what he did and the CONNECTION to White supremacy and patriarchy is to literally shoot darts into the theory of White supremacy. Protecting this is more important than even 20 innocent young White lives gone. This is the sickness of White supremacy. In its hierarchical nature, sure, individual White lives matter more than individual Black ones. Black mothers sadly know this oh too well. They’ve buried too many children. But White supremacy itself must be protected above individual White lives? This is what both the government and the media no longer covertly insinuates but actively proselytizes now…through euphemisms (as George Carlin reminded us all), slick media framing and more. I…think some Whites realize this now more than ever. Some join in step with the government and media and quickly try to silence any political conversations by promoting the logical fallacy that critically thinking about race, racism and violence is equal to not caring about the victims of violence. White privilege and semantic warfare are partners in this illogical stance. But…other Whites know better. They know the truth. The problem is, again, many people, White and people of colour (with internalized White supremacist ideals), are avidly invested in protecting White supremacy, so even Whites who are now rejecting this all and whose views match other people or colour (who see or have always seen the truth) are in for a helluva fight. You think fighting the gun lobby is hard? Try dismantling the ideology behind their nonsensical need for gun violence to reinforce White masculinity or altering the two arms of oppression, the government and the media.

(Oh…and have you seen the filthy apologist, White supremacist post in the Opinion section of The New York Times? It’s reprehensible. I loved what some writers on Tumblr had to say about it.)

Interesting reads by other writers, related to this topic:

Nice White Boys Next Door - Sikvu Hutchinson

It Will Never Be The White Man’s Fault - queervomit

The Racism of Quaintness - girlebony

Time To Profile White Men? - David Sirota, Salon

America Breeds Terrorists. And They Are White Not Brown - Crunk Feminist Collective

Ten Differences Between White Terrorists And Others - veryethnic 

Related Posts: response To Edward Park’s quote on race/terrorism, response to President Obama’s statement after the Newtown terrorism, The High Cost Of Protecting Institutions and Ideologies Over Individuals, a tweet on terrorism, Aurora Theater Shooting = Terrorism, White Privilege and Criminal Justice

Every class was interrupted when at least one student, and usually three or four, had a breakdown after hearing an unfamiliar noise coming from upstairs, or the hallway, or the parking lot, and understandably so. When we first got to the new school, we were unaware that construction work was being done in the classroom above ours. The sound of someone dragging a box across the floor upstairs was enough to send one little boy into a fetal position. He curled up into himself, shaking and sobbing hysterically.
—  Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis describing what it was like for her first-graders returning to class after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in her book, Choosing Hope.