He did it at a memorial service on New Year’s Day:
Claire Davis’ father asked people to forgive the fellow student who shot and killed his 17-year-old daughter at Arapahoe High School.
It was an amazing and generous request to make at a celebration of Claire’s life on New Year’s Day at the National Western Livestock Show complex in Denver.
The request was all the more stunning because Michael Davis invoked the name of his daughter’s killer — 18-year-old Karl Pierson. Many people, including public officials, have refused say Pierson’s name publicly, saying they didn’t want to give another school shooter any notoriety. Pierson took his own life after shooting 17-year-old Claire with a shotgun in a school hallway on Dec. 13.
“The young man that shot Claire had a name. His name was Karl Pierson,” the father said at the memorial. “For reasons most of us, or all of us, will never know, Karl allowed himself to become filled with anger and rage and hatred.“That anger, rage and hatred blinded him. He blindly followed a path that led him to do something that no one should ever do. He took an innocent person’s life. He took our daughter’s life,” Michael Davis said, his voice cracking.
For the first time, the father revealed that Claire spoke to Pierson before he shot her. Authorities say Pierson’s target that day was the school librarian who oversaw the school debate team. Pierson, a member of the debate team, had clashed with the librarian and reportedly threatened him. The debate coach escaped unharmed.
On that Friday afternoon, Pierson entered the school and began randomly firing the shotgun in a hallway in a shooting that lasted just 80 seconds and claimed two lives.
“Claire’s last words are poignant and profound,” her father said. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, Karl, what are you doing?’ The fact is that Karl was so blinded by his emotions that he didn’t know what he was doing. In her most innocent and precious way, Claire tried to shine a light on Karl’s darkness.”
“My wife and I forgive Karl Pierson for what he did because he didn’t know what he was doing,” the father said. “We would ask all of you here and all of your watching [on television] to search your hearts and also forgive Karl Pierson. He didn’t know what he was doing.”
“Karl’s no longer with us. So it’s no longer our responsibility to pass judgment.”