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Saturday, December 15, 2012

School Shootings

I don't normally use my blog forum to discuss anything other than fashion with lighthearted banter, but the tragedy yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut hit close to my heart. First, as you all know, I lived in Connecticut for four years. I tried out a gym in Newtown one day but it was too far from where I lived in West Haven (40 min drive). I worked with people that live in Monroe, CT, not too far from Newtown. Newtown is a small place. Blink and you'll miss the center of town, marked by a big white pole. It's quintessential New England, sleepy and rich with history and lovely older homes. My heart goes out to those affected by this horrible, needless act at Sandy Hook Elementary.

But this isn't the first shooting that has affected me. I was a sophomore in high school on February 11, 1988 when a 15-year old classmate, Jason Harless, and his punk-ass friend, Jason McCoy, played shoot-em-up at Pinellas Park High in Largo, FL. Jason Harless killed Assistant Vice President, Richard Allen, who died from a gunshot wound to the head six days after being shot. Two more school officials were also wounded.

Jason McCoy was released from prison after only serving 14 months of a six-year sentence. The shooter, Jason Harless, served 17 years and is now a 39-year old free man as seen below.



I saved several newspaper clippings that have been stored at my sister's house for the past five years. I still remember my classmate, Chip, who left class with a hall pass to the bathroom and came back white as a ghost with the look of fear in his eyes as he struggled to get out the words of what he had just witnessed in the lunchroom. Years later, you could still see where one of the bullets hit the lunchroom wall.

 
So every time I hear of these senseless acts of school violence, especially opening fire on small children, it just baffles me as to the kind of world we live in.
 
*Not to seem insensitive to the situation but the first picture in the collage is that of John Wilson, a former Tampa Bay news anchor and father to actor Patrick Wilson.
 


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13 comments:

  1. I think the sentences should be the same as a terrorist would get. These were too short.

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  2. Six years and 17 years??? Are you kidding me? Is that what a life is worth?
    I agree with Judy in that these senseless acts are indeed of a terrorist nature, and should be judged and sentenced accordingly.

    I feel sick when I think about what happened to those poor children....and yet it's so far from me. I can only imagine the devastation that those close to the situation are dealing with now. It must bring a lot of painful memories to you as well, having lived through a similar situation in your past. My heart goes out to you, and all those who are now suffering through this atrocious act.

    ~ Julie

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    1. No chidren were shot.

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    2. I see. So it's only a tradegy when it involves small children. Forget the psychological damage any violent act has on any person at any age. Forget the days that go by when Richard Allen's family grieve over his loss. Forget the daily pain the gunshot victims went through while healing. Yes, you're right, it doesn't count unless 'chidren' are shot. I'm sure the families of the 8 adults that were so brutally gunned down in Newtown trying to protect those kids would disagree.
      Niki

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  3. I was also a student at PPHS in Feb. 1988.

    I witnessed the shooting.

    I also wrote about it:

    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/yesterday/

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  4. Hello, I was a student at Pinellas Park HS that day too and I've been looking for newspaper articles/clippings/front pages or whatever and I can't seem to find anything on it. Would it be possible to get a copy of something you have? It would mean so much to me, anything would be appreciated.
    If you could contact me at my email address, that would be great: joseph.hendricks@yahoo.com

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    1. I apologize, my email address is at gmail; joseph.hendricks@gmail.com - apparently I had yahoo on the brain.

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    2. Joseph - I don't know how I missed this comment. Terribly sorry. I don't actually have my book of clippings - it's at my sister's house. I can get it though. Let me see if I can work on scanning what I have and then send it to you.
      Niki

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  5. My son was a student and witnessed the complete incident. It left it's mark on him. He has now been called upon for jury duty for the Holmes case in Colorado-the Aurora Theater shootings. I believe he will be disqualified from duty because of this history. Just because little children were not shot, in fact no students were shot, that does not mean damage was not done!! I believe if the Jason's did this now, their sentences would be much harsher-school shootings were rare back then and there was no real precedent set as yet for prosecuting teens who were doing horriuble things like that. They should have had to have served more time but that was not to be. And life goes on!!

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    1. I didn't witness any of it but I'm sure if I had, I would have been traumatized for the rest of my life as it sounds like your son is. So sorry to hear that this still deeply impacts him. And you never hear any mention of PPHS's shootings on the news when other school shootings happen. I just remember being in class and then suddenly we were ushered outside as parents waited to pick up their kids. As I was 17, there are bits and fragments of it that I remember. I also remember my friend Nicole was celebrating her bday that day. And I agree with you. There weren't a lot of school shootings back then and no precedent for jail time. I agree that that more time should have been served by both. Thank you for commenting on this.
      Niki

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  6. I just read a article in the Tampa Bay times which use to be called St Petersburg times that stated Jason Harmless only served 8 years and had 4 years of parole left and the article was written in 2012.

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  7. My uncles attended PPHS at the time and one of them was skipping school that day and the other became a cop. My one uncle mentioned once running into one of the Jason's after he was released and I know others who had run into either one of them and they all make note of how the shooting also affected them too. Remember, they were kids too and it had to have affected them just as much as it affected everyone else who was at school. I also attended PPHS too in the early 2000's and walked past the memorial of Mr. Allen every day I walked into school. I'd stop and offer silent respect on occasion and I've heard many stories, including from my favorite PPHS teacher as he shared with us(his students) his account of that day. Even my generation felt affected by the shadow of the shooting and it was fresh in our minds too. I remember being told by some kids on the bus in eighth grade that PPHS was a bad school because of the shooting when I told them where I would attend high school (like my aunt, uncles and big bro before me) I feel empathy for everyone who had been in school on that day. It was senseless and tragic, but I won't demonize the shooters either. Whether you were shooter, victim, or witness, I am certain that you were affected deeply and I hope you all get a chance to heal from that tragic day for and I hope for the same for all who are affected by similar tragic shootings.

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  8. I also went to PPHS at time of shooting.This just amazed me. He only did 2 years!!! Smh abith of them should still be locked up. How do we know that wont do it again

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