Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting: Analytical Essay

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An Insight on the Worst American School Massacres A school shooting takes place when a school or place of education is invaded, leaving many casualties (people who are injured or killed). When having a discussion about some of the most tragic school massacres in United States history, people’s minds typically drift to Columbine High School and Virginia Polytechnic and State University every time; however, Columbine isn’t the most horrific anymore. Columbine High School is in the top five worst school massacres to happen in the United States, but it falls short of making the top three. Critics may argue that Columbine High School set the stage for the other horrendous massacres that have happened in the United States in the last few decades. “Each year in the US more than 2,700 children and teens are shot and killed-and 14,000 more are shot and injured-according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (March For Our Lives, 20). Undoubtedly, the Virginia Tech massacre had the most casualties with Sandy Hook Elementary School following closely in suit and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly after. All three of the murderers who took part in these massacres had a history of mental health problems or were actually diagnosed with mental illness. The worst school tragedies in United States history are the murders at Virginia Tech, the Sandy Hook massacre, and the unfortunate events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Virginia Tech is potentially the worst school shooting in United States history, killing 32 people in total and one suicide. Typically, shooters are examined for mental illness to better understand if there is a correlating cause in their mentality to commit a heinous crime. All over the nation, people are aware of the deadly massacre that happened at Virginia Tech, but no one is quite sure why other than mental illness.

Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on Virginia Tech’s campus on April 16, 2007. Early one spring morning, Cho began his rampage at a residential building by killing a female resident and a residential advisor (Tikkanen, 1). Cho had a history of mental illness; he had several consultations at the universities counseling center, and he was later sent to spend a short time at the psychiatric hospital because his roommate feared that he was suicidal (Tikkanen, 1). According to Tikkanen, Cho had also bought a fair amount of guns, weapons, and ammunition shortly before he began his rampage (2). Weapons that are dealt to people that are unfit to handle should never be given out because they can only lead to disaster.

After killing two people near the residence building, Cho entered the classroom building and chained the doors shut behind him so that people would not be able to flee (Virginia Tech Shooting, 1). A lot of people argue that the rampage began when he entered the classroom building. Cho went into the classrooms and fired at anyone in his range, instantly killing many and leaving numerous people injured. After Cho opened fire in one of the classroom buildings, he then proceeded to commit suicide (Virginia Tech Shooting, 1). It was found in the investigation that Cho did not target anyone but that his motifs were because of the “wealthy brats” (Virginia Tech Shooting, 2). According to Virginia Tech Shooting, the letter also noted Columbine High School’s killers, and it was assumed that Cho was following in their footsteps (2). After the attack, the nation was left in mourning, especially in the area of Southwest Virginia, which was hit the hardest. Virginia Tech now holds an annual candlelight vigil and a marathon. Overall, Southwest Virginia and the area of Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech’s campus lies, is forever changed due to the horrific hate crime that was committed that day. Therefore, Virginia Tech was placed as the worst school massacre of all time due to its number of victims, the killer's crucial motifs, and the overall intensity and fear of the situation.

About five years after tragedy struck the Virginia Tech campus, another school tragedy struck the United States in a small elementary school, named Sandy Hook when Adam Lanza opened fire in the building. The nation was hurt the most by this shooting and put in a state of sadness because Lanza did not just murder adults in cold blood, but he also demonically took the lives of small children that had barely gotten a chance at life. During the early hours of the morning before the shooting happened, Lanza struck and killed his mother with one of his guns, ultimately killing her. A couple of months before the massacre took place, Lanza reportedly had a falling out with one of his friends, which could have helped him along the path to completing khaos (Katersky, 3). According to Katersky, Lanza was never formally diagnosed with any form of depression, but he talked to some of his friends about mental illness, and depression; he even shared his interest in mass murders and serial killers (2). In addition to his parents getting a divorce when he was nearly eight years old, Lanza’s downhill slope into mental illness began when he was about eleven years old and entering the eighth grade (Katersky, 3). It is unknown if Lanza’s parents were aware of his unusual mental state, but his teachers and the faculty of his school building seemed to take notice. Lanza’s former teachers had reported that he would write and draw assignments that were so gruesome and violent that they repeatedly tried to alert the principal and authorities of the behavior that was portrayed in his work (Katersky, 4).

Lanza had two semi-automatic pistols, an AR-15, and a shotgun, all of which his mother bought for him (Ray, 3). Lanza shot through a plate of glass to gain access into Sandy Hook Elementary (Sandy Hook School Shooting, 1). After entering the building, Lanza met with and killed the school principal and psychologist while the secretary and nurse waited inside the office to make phone calls; Lanza killed twenty-six children and adults during his 5-minute rampage before setting himself up in a corner and pulling the trigger, ultimately killing himself 10 minutes after first entering the building (Ray, 1 ).

After killing a few adults in the hallways, Adam started to walk toward the first-grade classrooms, where he had once sat. Three rooms that were side-by-side belonged to Kaitlin Roig, Victoria Soto, and Lauren Rousseau. He had first walked by Kaitlin Roig’s classroom, but he kept walking because she had a black sheet over the window, which made it look like no one was there, from the last drill that they had done (Lysiak, 96). Teacher Kaitlin Roig saved her children by piling herself and them in her tiny first-grade classroom bathroom; there wasn’t much room at all, so she had to hold some students and make some sit on the toilet and sink (Lysiak, 96). He then continued the rampage onto another classroom. One of the first-grade teachers, Lauren Rousseau, was shot immediately as Lanza entered her classroom because she was still trying to get her children into lockdown (Lysiak, 99).

According to Lysiak:

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“He then pointed his Bushmaster and began firing indiscriminately into the group of helpless children, striking special education teacher Rachel Marie D’Avino, killing Catherine Hubbard, Ana Maquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Josephine Gay, Noah Pozner, Jack Pinto, Chase Kowalski, Madeline Hsu, Jessica Rekos, Daniel Barden, Charlotte Bacon, Benjamin Wheeler, Emilie Parker, and Caroline Previdi” (99).

He next entered Victoria Soto’s classroom, where the children stood against the far wall, and he fired his gun at Soto; after killing the young teacher, he started firing at six and seven-year-olds who were trying to flee the classroom (Lysiak, 108-109).

Finally, one of the most recent school massacres that seemed to emphasize gun restrictions the most is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving fourteen students and three teachers dead. Yet again, the nation had been swept and left in a state of despair and utter chaos. Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the high school in the afternoon after getting out of an Uber with a duffle bag carrying his previously bought AR-15; it was not the only gun that he carried at the time (Teen Gunman Kills 17, 1). After about two minutes into his rampage, he had already killed 11 people and left several injured (Teen Gunman Kills 17, 2).

Although an intruder with a gun usually sparks panic and terror in people, it didn’t spark a lot of terror in people this day because most of the students had no idea what was going on and were completely incognizant. A fire alarm had gone off around the time Cruz entered the building, so some of the teenagers were outside and didn’t hear the gunshot (Cullen, 25). As the shooting was taking place, many of the students were clueless about what was going on and had to find out through social media and texting from their friends who knew (Cullen, 25). Unfortunately, some of the students took videos to send to their friends to alert them, and numerous videos surfaced on social media-some obtaining images of the bodies of those who had fallen to Cruz. The day after Cruz opened fire on the high school, a candlelight vigil was held in Parkland, Florida in remembrance of the 17 lives that were lost the day before (March For Our Lives, 23).

Instead of committing suicide after his mass murder, Nikolas wore clothes to help him blend in as he made his way through the crowd and to a Walmart, being spotted after leaving Walmart (Teen Gunman Kills 17, 2). The high school’s resource officer was arrested a little over half a year later on the count of neglect by retreating from the campus while the mass murder was taking place; the resource officer had been outside when the shooting was happening and knew right away what was taking place, so he fled the scene out of fear and left the school helpless (Teen Gunman Kills 17, 3). After Nikolas Cruz killed helpless teenagers in their own high school, some of the survivors held a rally called, “March For Our Lives'' (March For Our Lives, 20). Thus, Marjory Stoneman Douglas was placed on the list of school massacres, and it was so brutal that it made its way into the top three worst school massacres in United States history.

There are several hundreds of people that think that the massacres had a positive outcome on the country because of how they changed people’s views; on the contrary, it certainly did not have a positive outcome, and it was not an uplifting event. This event was a horrendous tragedy that should never happen to a school or any country. They all had many casualties and left many families, friends, and even the nation in mourning for a long period of time. Some people disagree that these massacres caused too much despair because they believe that they positively impacted people’s views on gun restrictions. After these tragedies shook the nation, many gun restriction protests and laws became continuously sought out for the better of the country.

Although it did form many opposing views on gun rights, guns do not kill people; people kill people. In addition to more gun restrictions, others believe that it was better in the sense of allowing more security measures throughout the country. To take more precautions, school resource officers were enforced everywhere, cameras were put in place, and doors were locked and equipped with a camera and buzzer to only allow certain people to enter the buildings. Greater security measures were a positive action, however, they had more of a negative effect due to the simple fact that there should have been greater security without the massacres taking place; the massacres should not have been the only motive for the country’s added desire for more security.

Therefore, the worst school tragedies in United States history are the murders at Virginia Tech, the Sandy Hook massacre, and the unfortunate events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Thus, schools and organizations should never have to face brutality like this. Over these top three worst school shootings of all time, there were 75 lives lost and two suicides. Nothing can compare to the horrible circumstances that have happened to these schools in history. This type of situation should never occur or happen again. School massacres could possibly continue to happen in the future, leaving many casualties and families left in despair; it could bestow a greater amount of terror on school children into the future. If people do not understand the importance of school massacres, they could possibly keep happening, leaving the country in an unlighted, disastrous state. Overall, the wickedness that stuck these schools across the nation certainly arranges them as three of the worst events to have happened to schools, and it should never happen again to any person or organization across the globe.

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