Run. Hide. Fight. That is something no parent wishes to see in the subject line of an email from their child’s school. But that is exactly what parents of children who went to UNC Charlotte saw on Tuesday evening. An active shooter was on campus and everyone was being warned. It took me a while to register what was actually happening or maybe I was just in denial. But when it finally sunk in, it felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my heart.
That horrible, horrible nightmare we read about or watch on TV was happening and it was hitting home. I’ll be honest. My daughter who is a student at UNCC was home here in Cary – which meant, there was a huge wave of relief washing over me. The next step was to check on all the kids I know who went to school there. Everyone was reported to be safe.
But the feeling of horror did not go away. The same horror we have been feeling since the days of Columbine – Sandy Hook – Parkland – Santa Fe to name a few and then the numerous killings in places of worship and clubs. Here in Charlotte, on the last day of classes, as kids were gearing up to celebrate the end of the academic year, two kids died. Shot dead. By another student with a gun he had bought legally. A senseless loss of two young lives. One of them had followed the third point – Fight. He did not want to Run or Hide. So he picked the third option. He fought and lost his life; but in the process, bought time and a chance to live for the others. Do they make them like him anymore? I thought that mold had been broken.
Next week, my firstborn graduates from UNC Charlotte and in a couple of months, my younger one will start as a freshman there. Another 49-er in the family. What would have been a weekend of celebration on campus and in hundreds of homes, will now be a very somber affair with everyone still recovering from the events of Tuesday – the students, staff, the parents, and everyone who has anything to do with UNCC. From what I hear, there is an unsettling pall of gloom that has descended on the campus which is not surprising at all. None of which is fair. Or right. To anyone involved. Especially to the families of Riley and Reed, and the four kids that were injured. And those that witnessed firsthand, the terror unfolding before them.
UNCC – the Niner Nation- responded magnificently to the darkest day in the history of its existence and they will emerge stronger. But how many more lives need to be lost before something is done about the gun laws in this country? How many more times do we need to relive this nightmare? Or are they waiting till we all become so immune to such horrific tragedies that we just shrug them off as casual statistics that mean nothing. Maybe then, they must be thinking, maybe then people will stop clamoring for changes to the gun laws.