Tragedy hits So. Cal. school

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That kind of thing could never happen here. But it did.

The noises of Santana that Monday were typical of any busy High School – bells ringing, friends laughing and talking about the weekend. But at 9:21 am the sounds of Santana were transformed into gunshots, cries, sirens and one resounding word that still echoes – “Why?”

Charles Andrew Williams, a fifteen year old who had moved from Maryland to Santee, California in the fall, opened fire with his father’s gun in a boy’s restroom near an outdoor quad area. During the rampage, fifteen people were shot, and two which later died. Brian Zuckor, fourteen, and Randy Gordon, seventeen were killed as a result of this tragic incident. Although it must have seemed like an eternity to those who were in the line of fire, this entire encounter lasted approximately seven minutes – from the first shot fired to the arrest of the suspect.

As soon as I heard about the shooting, my world came to a screeching halt. My nephew, Christopher, is a senior at Santana High School. For about twenty minutes I had no idea if he was dead or alive. My focus was entirely on contacting him and ensuring that he was safe. Thanks to the wonderful technology of cell phones, I was able to get a hold of him. While he was far from OK – two of his friends that he was walking with did get hit- he was not shot. I thank God for Christopher’s safety, as well as the opportunity I had to be close to my family at such a heart wrenching time.

Soon after the shooting ended, Salvation Army personnel, Lieutenants Jerry and Denice Gass, Santee Corps Officers and Captain Glen Madsen, El Cajon Corps Officer were on site to provide comfort and assistance to the students who were evacuated from the school and the parents who were frantically searching for their children.

The first shot rang out that Monday morning March 5th, but when did this all really begin? It’s been said that this shooting was the result of a young man who was unhappy with his new surroundings, the target of bullies and the brunt of cruel teasing. This is by no means an excuse for his actions. Life is hard; it always has been and on this side of glory always will be. This fact is especially true for our young people. Many adults say “When I was fifteen, I would have never imagined something like this.” True, but we were never fifteen like the students of today are fifteen. This is not an excuse for, but rather an acknowledgement of our ever-changing society where truth is deemed relative to circumstance or viewpoint and morality is often seen as something that gets in the way of a good time.

So, in the light of this tragedy, now what? How can we equip our children, and ourselves, to survive and thrive in this less than perfect place we call home? As unsophisticated as it sounds, to me the answer can be summed up in one word. Jesus. This is far from simple, but isn’t it the simple truth? When we allow the Christ to be evidenced in our lives, we will make a positive impact on the world around us. It has been said that children live what they learn. May God give all of us the grace, strength and courage to be good examples to our young people and become the people He desires for us to be – for our sake, for our children’s sake and for Jesus’ sake.

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