Arapahoe High School Shooting Resonates On Sandy Hook Anniversary
As the nation pauses to observe the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre, the shooting at Centennial, Colorado’s Arapahoe High School offers a chilling reminder that the issues involved are not only in the past. While there are significant differences between the two shootings, the common link of a young person using a gun in a school challenges parents and authorities seeking to protect the children in their care.
Unlike the Sandy Hook shootings, the perpetrator in this most recent Colorado shooting was a student at the school in pursuit of a particular teacher. Student Karl Pierson, a member of the school’s debate team, had gotten in trouble with his debate coach and had been removed from the team. Later he was suspended from the school for threatening the teacher. Why Pierson decided to start shooting randomly when not finding the teacher is unknown. One student was hit and critically injured. Pierson ultimately killed himself.
Having changed the response policies after Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, police entered the school to pursue the shooter immediately rather than surround and secure the school first. Teachers knew to lock doors and gather students at the back of classrooms. But while the immediate response protocols have been improved, many of the same questions remain unanswered. What pushes a young person to act on frustrations or impulses in such a horrifying way? How can school shootings be prevented in the future? These questions are still fresh after Sandy Hook, now resonate that much more after Arapahoe High School.