Like many of you, I spent a lot of time this weekend staring at the television, trying to make sense of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. Police press conferences. Gut wrenching interviews with the victim’s friends and families. First-hand accounts from those who were there and somehow managed to escape. Psychologists trying to answer the big question: Why? Today I’m no closer to “wrapping my head around it”, as they say, then I was on Friday.
This morning the “Suspect” (we must call him that in this country because our laws dictate that he is “presumed innocent until proven guilty”) made his first appearance in court. He looked disoriented and “out of it” as the judge explained that he would be held without bail. The “Alleged shooter” has a court appointed attorney and is not cooperating with police, nor did he speak at the hearing.
Thankfully, though, as he was arrested he did talk to the Police (for some weird unexplained reason) and told them he’d booby-trapped his apartment. Who knows how many lives that spared?
What we do know is that 12 lives were lost and 58 other people were wounded (some lifetime injuries) in a deranged act that took just moments to carry out, but was months in the planning. All this by a person whose name I will not give, because when we speak of him by name, in his twisted mind, he gets the attention he sought.
4 weapons - including the type the Taliban use in Afghanistan - all purchased since May.
6000 rounds of ammunition bought over the internet.
Bullet-resistant black tights.
A 24-year-old with hair dyed flaming red - just like “The Joker” - the depraved character from the Batman movie that he apparently was emulating.
And a plan…
Dress normally. Buy a ticket to the special Midnight Showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” - just like all the other excited Batman fans. Take a seat in the front. Then, as the movie begins, slip out of the emergency exit to the side of the screen, change into your killing clothes, and sneak back in the theater through the same door that you’ve left slightly open. Then… the real show begins. Toxic smoke…the sound of gunfire… the realization, as bodies fall, that no - this isn’t part of the Movie.
If only it were.
Like Columbine and Fort Hood, Virginia Tech and Luby’s Cafeteria… and yes, like Oklahoma City and 9/11, once again we are left shaking our heads, praying for the victims and their families, and trying to understand something that I don’t believe the human brain - or heart - is capable of understanding.
Unfortunately we can now add “going to the movies” - one of life’s simple pleasures - to that growing list of things that make us a little uneasy.
But we are Americans. We rally together and bounce back. We’ve done it before, we’ll do it now, and (unfortunately) I’m sure we’ll have to do it again.
For now, though, there is shock and a deep sadness. And the nagging question “Why?” that will never be answered.
I once asked my daughter Jackie why she watched “Gone With The Wind” over and over on our VCR. She told me it was simple: she kept hoping it would end differently.
I think she was on to something.