Opinion: Truckee gun incident eerie reminder of Sandy Hook
The timing was remarkable and incredibly ironic.
On Sunday, while watching football, I saw many a Facebook post about the two-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 26 people — 20 of whom were six- and seven-year-old students.
Flashing back, I vividly recall that day, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. I was at my desk, just returned from a lunch with John Seelmeyer, editor of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly, when the headlines started pouring in of the shooting.
The next couple hours, I lost myself in a sea of social media, following all the tweets and Facebook posts spreading the news and sharing the growing number of opinions on the shooter’s motives, gun control and more.
I recall being distraught that something like this could happen in our world, and I took to my own Facebook page. I usually try to avoid heat-of-the-moment vulgarity, but this was a situation where I was completely fine with telling everyone: “There are some terribly f—ed-up people in this world. Screw a censored post — no other way to describe today’s massacre of children in Connecticut.”
Maybe it was an immature post, and perhaps my emotions got the better of me, but in horrific times like those, it was how I felt, right or wrong.
So, we fast forward, and again, I’m sitting at my desk Tuesday, working on deadline on Wednesday’s Sierra Sun, and I see the Nixle alert flash across my email, informing me a student had brought a firearm to Alder Creek Middle School the day before.
READ MORE: TTUSD officials were on campus Tuesday morning, including Superintendent Rob Leri, and a “shelter in place was initiated so the police could search for the reported gun ,” according to the school district.
Considering this happened on the two-year-and-one-day anniversary of Sandy Hook, it was a shocking message to see, and immediately we stopped producing the paper to work on the story.
As I began crafting the statement into an article, I was very relieved to report the following three pieces of information: that no one was hurt, and students at the school were never in danger; that there was no evidence to believe the student intended to cause violence or threaten anyone; and that officials with Truckee Police and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District appeared to act very quickly to ensure students and adults were protected.
According to police, its investigation revealed the 14-year-old male got the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun from his home, where it was not secured, and there was live ammunition within reach.
Considering what happened two years ago — and what seemingly continues to happen every other week or so these days in terms of mass shootings, and as we continue to see the headiness at a dizzying pace — I was disheartened to hear that information from the authorities.
It appears to be a waiting game now as to whether the Nevada County District Attorney will seek charges against the parents for unlawful securing of a firearm and ammunition.
But as we wait, there was a fourth piece of information reported in this story that I think we all can be grateful for — at least one of the students who was shown the gun on Monday apparently did the right thing, and told his or her parents about it.
That led to a phone call to the school, which immediately led to police action to stop anything before it may have happened.
In an era when bullying is often talked about as being a major problem among our youth, to be 12, 13, 14 years of age and to come forward and let an adult know something might be fishy represents a level of courage that deserves recognition.
In a small town, it might be tough to do so publicly, for obvious reasons — but perhaps drawing attention to the act in the newspaper is a good start.
— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Reach him for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.