Breckenridge Texan

Commentary: Let’s work together to help prevent Breckenridge from becoming another Uvalde or Sandy Hook situation

Commentary: Let’s work together to help prevent Breckenridge from becoming another Uvalde or Sandy Hook situation
May 31
16:46 2022

Note from the editor: A version of this column originally appeared in the Breckenridge Texan’s Weekly News Roundup e-newsletter that was sent to subscribers this morning, May 31, 2022.

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

We found out about last Tuesday’s shooting in Uvalde the same way most of you did — by seeing an online news story.

At first the news seemed bad…there was an active shooter at a school in Uvalde. Slowly as the day went on, it got worse – much, much worse.

Early reports said several were injured. Then, a couple people were reported dead. That number rose to 14. Heartbreakingly, that number ended (for now) at 19 children and two teachers dead.

In the days following the shooting, the news seemed to deliver one gut-punch after another. From the screams of anguished parents captured in cell-phone video to the accounts from children who survived by “playing dead” as their teachers and classmates were shot all around them, the news was difficult to take. As Texans, as parents, as humans, we felt the shockwaves of grief as they echoed across the land.

We are so fortunate that we can only imagine the tragedy that the citizens of Uvalde are living through. But, one story that Tony and I identified very much with is an article in “The New Yorker” about the Uvalde newspaper staff.

The story describes how the newspaper’s general manager and photographer, Pete Luna, rushed to the scene, not knowing exactly what was going on. Through the camera’s lens, the horror of the scene dawned on him.

By the next day, he knew that the daughter of one of the newspaper’s reporters was among the dead.

The New Yorker talked to Luna and Craig Garnett, owner and publisher of the Uvalde Leader-News:

“In the middle of it, I was thinking about the other news outlets being able to beat us in every way,” Garnett told The New Yorker reporter the next day. “They have resources. They don’t mind asking the hard questions, even if it offends you, and we did. Community journalism is a different animal.” But there were also things the Leader-News could provide in a way that no other outlet could: “Context. A source of understanding, and hand-holding, and healing.”

We understand where Garnett is coming from. Although we’ve never had to cover anything as traumatic as a mass shooting, we have covered local tragedies, and we are very conscious of how we handle those situations.

We never want to be in Pete Luna and Craig Garnett’s shoes. We never want to cover an active shooter in Breckenridge. It bears repeating: WE NEVER WANT TO COVER AN ACTIVE SHOOTER IN BRECKENRIDGE. Therefore, we are asking you…begging you…to do everything you possibly can to help prevent it from ever happening here.

We all have varying opinions on what leads to or allows a mass shooting to happen. But, based on research into such incidents, there are several commonalities that show up in many shootings, including mental health issues, access to guns, access to the place where they attack and a lack of preparedness and/or awareness of the people — including law enforcement — at the location. That list isn’t comprehensive, and every shooting incident doesn’t include every element, but many do.

This isn’t a political commentary, and I’m not looking to start a debate. But, I’m asking you to put aside your political opinions, take a look at your own life and do EVERYTHING you can to possibly prevent another mass shooting. If there’s even the slightest possibility that something I can do might save even one life, I’m willing to do it, and I hope you are, too.

So, here are some things, based on research, that we can all do:

– Seek help for emerging mental health issues. Sometimes such offenders exhibit personality changes in the hours, days or weeks leading up to the crime. They might become withdrawn, alter their appearance, appear agitated or angry, say or write threatening things against themselves or others. Whether or not you think a particular person is dangerous, if they seem to be having a mental health crisis, do whatever you can to try and get them help. There are resources in Breckenridge and Stephens County to help you. Just this month, the County Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month. ResourceCare has behavioral health professionals and a counselor on staff. You can also talk to local elected officials, including County Judge Michael Roach and Justice of the Peace Steve Spoon. Additionally, there are some national mental health help lines that you can call or text: The National Alliance on Mental Illness helps individuals and families by connecting them with essential resources and services. NAMI can be reached by calling call 800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Central Time, or send an email to info@nami.org. Or, if you need help outside of those times, text the word NAMI to 741-741 and connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.

– Secure your guns. According to various reports, the killer in last week’s school shooting legally obtained the gun(s) he used. But, that’s not always the case. Sometimes killers have used stolen or borrowed guns. So, if you have guns, especially the kind that can kill many people in a short amount of time and can overpower law enforcement, please make sure those guns can never be used in a school shooting by anyone.

– Follow the safety rules where you work, go to school, volunteer, worship, work out, etc. Based on news reports, the killer at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary entered the school through a door that had been propped open. The school reportedly had security measures in place, but they were circumvented for some reason. At this point, I haven’t seen any information about who propped the door open or why. The school had an awards ceremony earlier that day – just like Breckenridge schools did last week. I’m sure there were many people in and out of the school that day who could’ve propped that door open for what seemed like a good reason at the time. Breckenridge Independent School District has safety protocols in place, and in the upcoming weeks, we will be talking to Superintendent Bryan Allen about what measures are taken to keep kids safe. But, safety plans only work if they are followed to the letter. Having to walk around to the school’s front door and wait for someone to buzz you in can be a hassle, but isn’t it a “sacrifice” worth making if it keeps the bad guys out?

– Take an active shooter class. Stephens County Sheriff Kevin Roach and former Sheriff Will Holt were trained several years ago to teach Active Shooter Training classes that instruct citizens on how to handle being trapped in a building with an active shooter. If you or a group you’re involved with is interested in scheduling such a training session, call the Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency number, 254-559-2481, and see about setting it up. Additionally, you may contact Holt at Wholt@tarleton.edu.

– If you see something, say something and more. The phrase “if you see something, say something,” came about after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. It encourages citizens to report to the police any suspicious activity. But, in the case of preventing mass shootings, it needs to go way beyond if you “see” something. If you hear something (in a conversation or phone call), read something (in a text message, social media post, hand-written note, etc.) or even just feel that something isn’t quite right, report it to some authority figure. Just let someone know there might be a problem that needs to be investigated.

Several mass shootings happen every year. They take place at schools, supermarkets, concerts, churches, warehouses, and many other places in big cities and small towns. I guarantee you, it’s not just Tony and Carla with the Breckenridge Texan who don’t want to cover such an event…the local law enforcement, emergency responders, medical professionals, funeral homes, school personnel and just the general population likewise do not want to have to deal with such a tragedy.

For the sake of our community, let’s work together to make sure Breckenridge stays safe.

 

 


Make sure you don’t miss any of the Breckenridge Texan’s news…click here to sign up for our email newsletter, the Weekly News Roundup. It has links to stories, photo galleries and more! It’s free to sign up, and it comes to you on Monday mornings (sometimes on Tuesdays after a holiday).


 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Archives

Title of the document Sign up for our
e-newsletter
Click Here