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CT Shooting – How Do You Process This Tragedy?

Flickr user B. W. Townsend

I still remember the day of April 20th, 1999 clearly. I was working at WQUN-AM, Quinnipiac University’s commercial radio station. The Associated Press Newswire started sending alerts of an “incident” at Columbine High School in a small town in Colorado.

As a workstudy student, it was my job to monitor the various news sources for breaking news. This one caught my attention. The alert was very short and vague. I took the initiative, Googled and called the local police department. Surprisingly, I got through. The person I spoke to only was able to tell me that they were responding to reports of “an incident”.

As the afternoon wore into the evening, updates started coming in very fast and were changing by the moment. The “incident” was confirmed to be a shooting. First there was one gunman, then there were two. The number of people confirmed shot kept going up.

I was working furiously, so I didn’t have time to stop and ”feel” anything. I worked late, until the situation seemed to stabalize and changing updates stopped coming in. When I finally left and walked to my dorm room, I felt like I was walking in a haze. I was exhaused, but running on adrenaline.

I couldn’t even tell you if I spoke to anyone on my way back to my room or not. What I remember from this point is getting back to my room and turning on my little, 13 inch TV to CNN and seeing the now famous picture of the students streaming out with hands on top of their heads while an armored SWAT vehicle passed by.

I finally broke down and cried.

Since then, we’ve learned that the shooters had apparently been ostracized by their peers. Obviously, this doesn’t excuse what happened, but it at least gives us some insight into their state of mind when they began their rampage.

But this is different. No matter what comes out of this story in the hours, days, and weeks ahead, there is nothing, nothing at all that can even tangentially begin to explain the random shooting of children.

I didn’t wait until I got home this time. This story touched all of us here at Townsquare Media. At some points we all stopped our work and gathered around the office televisions, just trying to comprehend what’s unfolding.

In the headline I ask the question, “how do you process this tragedy?” Honestly, I don’t know the answer. I don’t even know if it’s possible.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, tributes, etc in the comments section below.

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