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Newtown Shooting Reaction

December 14, 2012

This has got to stop.

When I heard about the shooting at the school in Connecticut it hit me like a punch in the solar plexus. It brought me back to one of the few times this job as a journalist brought me to tears.

It was January 17, 1989. A man named Patrick Purdy had opened fire with an assault rifle on children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California.

After shooting more than 100 rounds, five students lay dead, another 29 students and a teacher were wounded and Purdy shot himself in the head.

I was working on the editor’s desk at KCBS that day. We sent reporter Diane Kalas to the scene and she went on the air to describe children at recess having to run for their lives as Purdy sprayed gunfire at them.

She had a sound bite of an eight-year old student saying her best friend was shot down as they ran for safety.

At the time my son was 8-years-old. I was talking to Diane after her live shot and she explained the little girl has said she could hear her friend saying, “ouch, ouch,” before she went quiet. She decided not to use that sound in her report because it was so graphic.

I began to think about my own son and, at that point I lost it. I couldn’t bear the thought of my son being the victim of such violence.

As journalists we all have to ignore these tragedies in order to cover them. But there is no way to ignore senseless violence when it targets innocent children.

You can’t blame today’s shooting on guns, the NRA, the Democrats or the Republicans. They didn’t do this.

This was, again, the action of a sick person named Adam Lanza. He joins an infamous group that includes James Holmes, Patrick Purdy, Jared Lee Loughner or Seung-Hui Cho.

The real tragedy is that this will probably not be the last time this happens. And we’ll shake our heads and cover the story.

This has got to stop.


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