The Shootings at Santa Monica (June 7, 2013)
Martin M. Goldstein
It could have been worse – much, much worse. A man clearly out of his mind, who had already killed four people, entered our Library crowded with students studying for Final Exams, and was about to open fire with an automatic weapon when he was taken down by a joint effort of the Santa Monica city and college police. It was an invasion of crazy into our normal world, and it shocked and hurt us deeply and profoundly. There’s nothing more I can say about the lunacy of having assault weapons available for the average citizen to buy and use that hasn’t been said. Things like that shouldn’t be happening, but they do happen. They did happen. They happened to us.It was in the aftermath of the shootings that both the wound and the healing became so clearly apparent. Santa Monica College is rightly seen as one of the jewels the crown of this progressive and prosperous city, and everybody in the city was shocked by this event. No – not there. Not at the College. But it was there, and since then, the school and community came together in a series of memorials and marches, culminating in a communal gathering at the Corsair Field. And it has worked. Through all the many efforts, including intensive grief counseling made available by the college, especially valuable to those who were on campus at the time (I observed it on television as it developed) – we have moved on. There is a memorial to Marcella Franco, the young student shot down in her car which crashed through the wall of the parking lot I use routinely. Her cousin works at the College; it was a death in the family. The flowers and candles are kept fresh. It is not forgotten, and for some never will be. But we have moved on, healed, and are now far better trained and prepared for such things in the future. Every time I step onto campus, however, or into my classroom, I now think about what to do if a shooter is at the door or outside the window. It’s different now. We are healed, but we are different. We have to be.
One Reply to “The Shootings at Santa Monica in June (2013)”
I wish “we have moved on” was true for everybody, but it isn’t, and I think that is something that needs to be addressed. As a student who was on campus that day, and witnessed the event as it unfolded, I can tell you that no community group, law enforcement, or response team was dispatched to assist the scores of traumatized students and faculty being evacuated. We ran from fear not into the arms of a trained response team who could deal with immediate emotional needs, but into a mass of reporters shoving cameras into tear-streaked faces. Additionally, the immediate attempts to deny that this was a “school shooting” by the college administration, and to offer counseling at the Bundy campus as the immediately impacted were stranded on a corner at 16th and Pearl added insult to an already grievous injury. There isn’t a day I walk onto campus and don’t feel a twinge of fear, and an overwhelming sadness at the failure of the campus to have a plan for the immediate aftermath of what happened to us that day. Rallies and vigils are great, but are not a substitute for lack of a CERT team and other vital resources.