Rachel Heath

Intentional Living: learning to be fully present

I Am Not Satisfied

6 months ago a 53 year old man entered a Castle Rock area high school and made national news. For whatever reason, he chose Platte Canyon High as his target and took a classroom of students hostage, waving a .40 glock in the air and claiming (falsely, it turned out) to have explosives in his backpack. He ended up letting all but 7 female students go and kept the remaining 7 hostage for several hours, during which time he sexually assaulted them and used them to communicate with officers outside the room.

I won’t relate the whole story, as most people have heard the story. He fatally shot Emily Keyes and then shot himself. The police fired 3 shots, 1 to his head and 2 to his shoulder, but it was the self-inflicted GSW that ended up killing him. I’m not sure how much national coverage this is getting, but yesterday the police have made public a previously unreleased report, including the gunman’s suicide letter.

I read the letter and had mixed feelings. I went back and forth between sympathy for the pathetic shell of a human being he had become and rage for the abominable crimes he chose to commit for, seemingly, no reason.

It’s obvious that he’s severely depressed and disturbed. He talked about childhood trauma, and I could relate. He expressed love for his family, sorrow for putting them through difficulties in the wake of “the bad things that are about to happen”, and a last wish that they would just get along. It dawned on me that this man was merely human.

On the other hand, the letter is 14 pages long. It’s not like this was a last minute thing. He appeared to have wrote it over several days and the letter gave a chilling impression of his steely resolve of will. Also he went on about a Harley dealership that supposedly cheated him on some bike parts and even wrote, “If things go as planned, I will try to make someone at the HD shop pay!”. He called and threatened a woman at the dealership several times. Then he wrote her name on a dealership business card and put it into Emily’s wallet. Was this supposed to be some bizarre form of retribution? In his entire letter, this man didn’t apologize a single time to his victims or their families, or even express regret for what he he did (though he apologized numerous times to his siblings). Is this because things didn’t go as planned? Did he mean to do what he did? Did it get out of hand, did he get desperate? What were his intentions?

We learn a little about his intentions from the contents of his backpack, which he threatened contained explosives sufficient to destroy the school. In reality he was carrying a stun gun, knives, rope, duct tape, handcuffs, and a several sexual aides. Sick monster. I’ll be harsh about this: if you’re miserable and want to kill yourself, fine. It’s a selfish thing to do, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but ultimately, everyone else keeps on living, finding closure in their own way. What this man did was so much worse of a tragedy because he took along a young woman who had just begun to live, and traumatized another 6.

It all seems so pointless and confusing. First Columbine, now this? I was surprised by a statement released by Emily’s family. They expressed deep appreciation for the way the police handled the situation and praised the 6 young women escaped the classroom that day. Those 6 will have to be very brave, and very strong, and I pray for them and for Emily’s family often.

It makes me profoundly sad to face the reality that this is the world we live in. This is the world that I will bring my children into, where individuals have free will to commit violent purposeless acts and very bad things often happen to innocent people. It’s hard to find hope in that reality. I don’t want to apply a simplistic, sugary, Christiany ‘God-is-in-control” sentiment. That’s a cliche answer to a cliche question and I’m not satisfied by it.

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save. Why do You show me
iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before
me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is
powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the
righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

Habakkuk 1:2-4

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3 thoughts on “I Am Not Satisfied

  1. I’ve been trying all morning to formulate a wise response. And there isn’t any. There are those in this world who are black and those who are pur and white. It’s your job to stay toward the pure, but be wary of the blackness.

  2. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that there could be justice fit for someone who commits such hateful crimes. I do believe that he is getting what he deserves.

  3. HI I struggle with understanding things so much. I believe that as christians we should have power because of prayer yet I see more and more horrendous stuff going on and I find myself questioning “where was the power to stop that?” but then I don’t know….I don’t know how many people God put in that man’s path to speak to him but he didn’t listen……..or how many God asked to speak to him but they didn’t do it because of fear or something else! I struggle with it but I agree with Thom G on the stay close to the light because then if God asks you to speak to someone then maybe this can be stopped next time! (Even that sounds so twee and cliched but I need to have some anchor or I spiral mentally!)

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