Shooter on Campus
A Dangerous Threat
Driving in to the office, late as usual, I glanced down at my emails after stopping at a red light. I spied a note from the principal of our son’s school regarding a lockdown. What in the world? Maybe they are doing a drill.
I opened the email and began to read about the school having a lockdown due to the threat that a man who had killed his wife and 2 children was not yet captured and someone thought they might have seen him on the school campus.
My heart froze as I drove on through the green light, and then I instantly thought “Christian will be fine. They’re just doing this as a precaution. I’m sure this is all a mistake and they’re being extra careful”.
My memory instantly put up pictures of worried parents outside of schools, wondering if their children were still alive. Waiting to hear. My heart was beating faster.
I headed toward my office. “Don’t panic. Everyone is ok”, I tried to reassure myself. I began to pray, “Lord, send your angels to surround them, give the staff wisdom and discernment. Peace, Lord, peace.”
I hurried in to my office and pulled up the information on the computer. Surely there’s some mistake. I reread the notice from the school.
Last night a man in Shingletown killed his wife and 2 kids. The kids attended Chrysalis School (The school that is on the same lot of land as our son). This morning the man was seen on campus, (in a small green truck) he is considered armed and dangerous and highly volatile… You may pick up your children if you wish.
I Began to Panic
Now I was having to face the fact that the gunman could have been at my son’s school while I was exercising.
Don’t go there mind. But my mind was going there. As a matter of fact, I think my mind began to freeze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t get hold of my husband. What should I do?
I sat there for a few minutes not doing anything. I was frozen. I decided to text all my girlfriends and knew they would be praying. One of the texts from my friend Melody came back “Are we still meeting at noon?”
I wrote back “Yes, I am here.”
Melody is one of the bravest women I know. Suddenly I could hear her voice “You get your butt up and get over there and get your son!”
Suddenly I jumped into action. It broke through my paralyzed head.
I was going in to get my son no matter what.
I quickly called the school to find out what the current status was. I didn’t know if they would answer the phone. A tense voice on the other end assured me it was fine to come and get him.
I drove the carpool that day, so I needed to get his friend James as well. Would they release him to me? I called his mom and got it arranged. The beauty of a small school.
As I drove I remembered every school shooting I had seen and the aftermath.
Bad thoughts go away!
“Lord”, I silently prayed “Keep him safe. Keep his heart at peace. Let him know that you are there.”
I began to have thoughts that I was not going to let some crazy man after my boy. No matter what was going on at that school, I was going in and getting him! “Lord give me courage”.
Time for action
I quickly pulled up front of the school and noticed everything looked the same as usual. Eerie. I quickly got to the office door, but door was locked.
This is real. Remain calm, Robbie. God is with you. Breathe. Another mom inside opened the door and I smiled as though life was normal and asked for Christian and his friend James. They didn’t need a hysterical mom.
They called over the intercom for them to come to the office. Even though we weren’t in danger, and this was really at this point a drill, the atmosphere was tense, and some of us moms were close to tears.
The job of these women was to protect these children and make sure they were safe. I was so grateful for their strength and faithfulness. I grabbed my son and his friend and jumped into the car, all the while making sure I was lighthearted and smiling about the fact they got to get out of school. They were ecstatic.
As we drove away, they began to describe the drill of the morning. “Lockdown directions came over the loudspeaker, and everyone thought it was a drill. Curtains were pulled, doors were locked and we all moved to the back of the room.”
My stomach churned as I listened to my son tell the story. Listening to make sure he was ok. “Then after about 30 minutes we began to realize this was not a drill. A few of the guys and I decided we were getting mad. And if a gunman wanted to come into our room, we were going to grab the baseball bat and go after him. We had 3 big guys and we thought we could take him. Besides, if I die I’m going to heaven, and that’s better than here, so we were in a good place.”
What a relief
Be still my heart! What can you say to that? I want my son to be brave and courageous. I want him to be filled with faith that heaven is real, and that God is there with him. I also want him to have wisdom.
But I was so glad that he didn’t have to test his faith in that way. I want him to know how much I love him, and never forget to tell him. When I leave him each day, to know “I love you son”.
As I look back on this “test run” I can compare my ability to handle emergencies with where I was twelve years ago when our daughter died to where I am now. I’ve gotten somewhat better, but there are still some things I need to work on.
The questions I asked myself to evaluate my response were:
- Does it take you a long time for your heart to beat normally?
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking about or losing sleep over your situation?
- How long does it take you to get back to your routine?
There are many ways to get help with difficult situations, but it’s good to know when it’s time to go and get help. Following are some things that have helped me.
What to do if you are paralyzed by fear/trauma
1. Breathe – Take deep long cleansing breaths and get some oxygen going to all parts of your body. This also helps to calm your body and allows you to think.
2. Talk to God –
When a trial comes, you can hear Him talking to you and comforting you. Find friends who can remind you of God and His word.
- Hebrews 13:5-6 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. 6 So we say with confidence “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
- Psalm 62:5 Yes, my soul find rest in God. My hope comes from Him. Reading and resting in His word has helped me through so many days.
- Be Intentional: This doesn’t happen automatically. It takes time and effort on my part to make time in my life for friendship. What a comfort to have those friends come alongside in a difficult time.
4. Heal Old trauma – When I experience something scary today, I don’t want to also be experiencing things from my past at the same time. Find someone who works with healing trauma.
Again, I can take the time needed to get help, or just keep handling things on top of things. If I don’t take care of this my body will start letting me know it cannot handle any more.
As I watched the sun come up today I am once again a grateful woman. Grateful that I know the Lord of the Universe, grateful that no matter what may come, He will be beside me and my family. Whether the news is good or the news is bad, God is there. He will never leave.
I pray for those families that had to walk through God being there with them during the most devasting news on those school campuses.
I also pray for those lost in the recent tornados. I pray peace for their hearts and their bodies and their families. I pray that God will continue to comfort them and direct them for the rest of their lives.
Helpful websites and books:
Peter Levine, Phd., has a website and books on trauma and how to heal
National Institute of Mental Health website discussing what Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is and how to get help
Bethel Church Healing Rooms: A place to go and receive prayer for healing physical problems. Many miracles have happened here.
Sozo Ministry: A time of prayer to heal past wounds of the heart