It is a parent's worst nightmare.
A gunshot in a school. Your child's school. The place where you send them to learn. To socialize. To be safe.
It is a student's worst nightmare.
Your school, a place where normally the only worries are how well you did on your math test or who you will go to the prom with, but now the halls are now filled with the smell of panic. Of fear. Of death.
These things shouldn't happen. Yet they do.
Westside Middle School. Thurston High School. Columbine High School. Santana High School. John McDonogh Senior High School. Red Lake High School. And many other schools falling victim to the pain of losing a student to violence.
And now, we add Platte Canyon High School to this list of tragedies.
Yet something sets this one aside from the majority of school shootings, as this time it was an adult that pulled the trigger. One adult. One handgun. And, according to some witness accounts, one target in mind.
Why did this individual pick out this victim? What was going through his head? What was actually he intending to do?
Was he, as I first said to myself when I turned on the television and sat down in shock, completely out of his skull?
In the coming weeks, these questions will be answered. And yet no amount of answers will help the family and friends of this young girl, her young life cut down far too soon, fill the hole in their lives once filled by an intelligent, hard-working, and pleasant person.
To those that knew this young woman: I don't know you. You don't know me. But know that you have my prayers, my good wishes, and my sympathy. When the time comes, say your good-byes. Mourn your lost friend, your missing child, your absent student. But never forget her, for as long as a person is remembered in life, they are never truly gone.
And to the rest of us, we must learn from this. There are those who will use this sad day as a political platform to advance their causes, whether gun-control or school safety or mental health, just as with any tragic event. Do not let the people or the causes overshadow the tragic event that happened twelve hours ago. Do not let them simply turn these painful times into their times in the spotlight. For the events of September 27, 2006, there should only be one spotlight shining.
On the empty desk, the empty bedroom, the empty locker of one girl who was taken from this world far too soon.