BBC: Monster in the Family

In the summer between grades 5 and 6, I took my routine trip to the United States. I spent most of that summer in Maryland with an uncle, aunt, and three cousins, and settled easily into suburban life.

While visiting, my uncle proposed starting the filing process to make me a resident in the United States. My mother agreed, but I didn’t believe it would happen until I saw my flight date slip by, followed by the date I should have returned to school in Jamaica.

Months later, mom learned about the Columbine shooting. Terrified that she could lose me in as tragic an incident, at school no less, and convinced it would only become a more frequent happening in America, she packed me up and sent me straight home.

The Columbine Shooting

It goes without saying that Columbine changed a lot of lives, on this day, 19 years ago — least of all, mine. Sure, I missed months of school, and spent my first day of class unable to fathom why there were letters on the board in math class.

But that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of lives changed by the cold and calculated massacre carried out by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Harris and Klebold originally planned to bomb the entire school, but the plan failed, compelling them to turn to their backup plan: guns. The two boys, just weeks from graduation, murdered 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 21 people.

The Oblivious Parent

While the victims and their families no doubt suffered immensely, during and after the shooting, the victim I am most curious about is the oblivious mother, who had to find out from police officers and the news that her son was a stone-cold killer.

Watch her story below, as a BBC reporter walks her through the horrific aftermath of the Columbine shooting.

One of the things I admire is how well she holds herself together, though she is clearly deeply affected by all that has happened.

Unlike many of the mothers whose sons commit atrocities (like the mother of Brock Turner!), she does not for a second excuse the actions of her son, or downplays the hurt he caused others.

I can only begin to imagine the long, hard road it took to get her to that point. The constant guilt and wondering. How did I not know? How did I miss the signs? Who is this 17-year-old boy I thought I raised?

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5 thoughts on “BBC: Monster in the Family

  1. People all over the world are stretched to the breaking point. What seems trivial to one person eats at another like a cancer. It’s not just parents who are oblivious either. People are so focused on themselves they don’t see ot think. I see people in public heap abuse on others too often. My first thought is “Geez, chill out!” The second is usually “Man what if he/she goes ballistic on you for that abuse?” And it can be a she, like that woman who shot Youtube employees, and then herself. What a waste all round.

    1. In Jamaica we have a saying for that: What is joke to one man, is death to another. But in Jamaica, we also don’t have random mass shootings, and especially not at schools, businesses, churches, and movie theatres.

      I do believe that like Elizabeth said, people are responsible for their own actions and their own behaviour. Sure, we shouldn’t bully others. But I also don’t think these people should be babied. The Columbine killers were both cited as bullies in the school, not bullied as people originally thought. And the one guy who stood up to them was the guy they told to go home before the shooting started.

      These people need professional and psychiatric help, but I don’t believe it’s our job to tip toe around them.

  2. Such evil is indeed a mystery. A good friend, great father, solid husband, has a brother in jail for life for child sexual abuse. Same mother, same father. We have to acknowledge individual decisions to make any sense of such things.

    1. Have you ever come across the journals they kept? In it, he talked a lot about two things: depression and girls’ disinterest in him. It’s believed he participated in the massacre for a glorified suicide, all because he couldn’t get the girls he wanted and hated himself.

      It blows my mind all the atrocities that happen to people all around the world, and he participated in a mass shooting because girls didn’t Iike him, and it bruised his self esteem…

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