The small, fragile boy appeared in a tiny orange jail-issued jumpsuit and faced a judge in juvenile court. He was charged with third-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and bringing a dangerous weapon onto school property. He cried and politely answered the judge when asked if he understood. After the preliminary hearing, his $50,000 bail was posted and he was released to the custody of his uncle.
According to court documents, the boy told a fellow student five days before the shooting that he was going to bring his dad's gun to school and run away. He had been living with his uncle after the grandmother that adopted him died from cancer. Both of his parents have extensive criminal histories and neither was deemed fit to maintain custody of the child. Authorities believe that the boy got the .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol while on a visitation with this mother the previous weekend.
Our community is reeling from the tragedy that unfolded at an elementary school in a quiet neighborhood. The 9-year-old student brought a gun to class in his backpack. When he slammed the bag down on his desk, the weapon discharged and his third-grade classmate was critically shot in the abdomen.
The victims of this terrible event have had their lives irrevocably changed in an instant.
The young girl who was shot is the obvious victim as the casualty of accidental violence. The bullet that shattered her bones and severely damaged internal organs is still lodged in the muscles near her spine. She will likely be in the hospital for several weeks and will need a number of surgeries during the course of her convalescence.
However, we would be remiss if we failed to acknowledge that the assailant is also a victim here. He is an innocent victim of environment, upbringing, association, and of circumstance. Unfortunately, his foolish actions may have determined the course of the rest of his life.
The injured student is blessed to be in the loving care of an adept medical team and her parents. And, though he is not suffering from any physical wounds, in many ways her classmate is not as fortunate. As a community, it is easy to automatically sympathize with and support a young victim of violence while demonizing the accused assailant. In this case, we should be moved to embrace both children and pray that they both get the care and attention they need.
Two young lives were devastated by the shot of a gun. It will take a village to mend what has been so gravely shattered.
I can only hope that both victims can garner the strength they need to heal.