A gunman went into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed at least 17 and wounded at least 20 more.
The shooter, Nicolas Cruz, aged 19, was arrested. He was an ex-student at the school. He had reportedly been expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons. Investigators said they have started digging through his social media and found it “very disturbing.” Apparently, students who knew him considered him to be dangerous. “We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” said one teacher. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
Parkland, 45 miles north of Miami, had just been declared the 15th safest city in America. The school has 3,200 students.
I’m sure we will learn more about what happened and why the 19-year-old killer went on his rampage. Usually in mass shootings–how awful that we have had so many of them we can make generalizations like this–the perpetrator is killed or kills himself. This one is in custody, so we can hear from him.
I know there will be an uproar over guns. (Cruz reportedly used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.) I wish the discussions would go deeper, going into why a person would resort to those guns and what could be done to prevent this kind of violence? For example, why is the youth culture often so toxic? Why are so many young people so dark, twisted, and violent inside? In this case, if school officials knew this young man was dangerous–to the point of expelling him–couldn’t anything have been done to safeguard the public from him?
Ultimately, of course, we must stare into the mystery of iniquity. Explanations and blaming outside factors will inevitably fall short. Sin is real, and it is horrible. The devil is real, and he looms behind the transgressions of his followers.
And we are not safe from death. Our children are not safe, try as we must to protect them. Even the 15th safest city in the United States is not safe.
I suppose this manifestation of sin and the contingency of life is a fitting lesson for Ash Wednesday.
Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!
Illustration by dutchpirates via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons