Prayers for Claire

Several years ago I lived in an apartment near Centennial, Colorado, that was about one mile from Arapahoe High School, the frightening scene of yet another school shooting last week. I used to drive by the school nearly every day.If I drove by late in the afternoon I would look to see if students were engaged in any outside activities such as sports practice and admire all their energy and exuberance. Arapahoe High School is across the street from two different grocery stores and adjoining strip malls which I frequented. The Starbucks was directly across from the school, where you could see the gaggles of students entering and exiting. If I was at the grocery store at lunch time it would often be filled with groups students –  the boys sometimes playfully pushing each other and the girls loud and giggly, typical teenage stuff. What is not typical teenage stuff is a teenage boy arming himself with a shotgun, oodles of ammunition, a machete and molotove cocktails and walking into school with the intent of seeking out a teacher to kill him and of killing your own classmates. It’s shocking, but sadly it has happened before and it will probably happen again, especially in a nation so divided on how to prevent these brutal acts of violence.

The teenage shooter was only in the school for 80 seconds. Denver and Colorado law enforcement are saying that the shooting response systems and drills that were in place and the swift action of authorities inside prevented him from causing the deadly harm he intended. However in those short seconds he did shoot one of his classmates in the head at point blank range. Again, shocking and brutal. Her name is Claire Davis and as I write this column, she is crictical condition and in a coma in an area hospital. Claire is 17 years old, a pretty girl with long dark hair who is said to be a horse lover, a baby sitter and a great student. She could be anybody’s daughter. I hope Claire makes it. I hope she is able to graduate from high school, go to college, get married and have children. I hope she is able to live a long, full life that she and any teenager so justly deserve, including all teenagers whose lives ended too soon in previous school shootings such as Columbine High School here in Colorado where 12 teenagers lost their lives at the hands of two of their classmates in 1999.

I don’t know what the answer is to prevent this type of incomprehensible violence from happening again. When I was living in Devils Lake and working at the Journal a person walked by the Central Middle School with a gun visibly in sight. It caused quite a stir and police were notified. People of a certain age will remember when years ago it wasn’t a big deal for students to have a gun in school and even keep it in their locker. Of course today it is a completely different situation. Why is that? What has changed about our teenagers, our society and our culture?

Regardless of how we move forward and what we do, I offer up prayers for Claire. I also offer up prayers for troubled teenagers out there who would even contemplate the idea of conducting such unnecessary violence or are struggling with depression or other issues that could possibly lead them to violence. I pray they will be able to reach out to someone and get the help they need. I pray that a family member or friend will offer help or even a simple how are you to teenagers who appears they might be in need. And I also pray that such violence will never happen again.

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