Since the tragic deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut on December 14, there have been three more shootings at schools in the U.S.. None of them has received as much publicity, but all underscore the need to get serious about gun control.
1. Taft Union High School, January 10
16-year-old Bryan Oliver opened fire on classmates with a 12-gauge shotgun at Taft Union High School, in the town of Taft (population about 10,000) about 30 miles west of Bakersfield, California, on January 10. He is being charged as an adult on two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The two people who were shot, Jacob Nichols and Bowe Cleveland, are expected to recover.
According to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, a teacher, Ryan Heber, was able to evacuate students through a back door and then had a conversation with the gunman. Oliver reportedly told Heber (who had received a pellet wound to his head) that he “wasn’t aiming at” him and then said the name of the student he was aiming at. Authorities have been investigating whether bullying might have played a role in Oliver’s act.
2. Stevens Institute of Business & Arts, January 15
34-year-old Sean Johnson, an “on-again off-again” student at the small for-profit school Stevens Institute of Business & Arts in downtown St. Louis, shot the school’s financial aid director, Greg Elsenrath, on January 15. Johnson used a Kel-Tec 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol with its serial number filed off. He was found by police in a stairwell with a chest wound and three live rounds of ammunition in the gun. Johnson had reportedly become “angry but not threatening” after meeting with Elsenrath on January 14 and returned the next day with the firearm.
Johnson has been charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a defaced firearm. According to court records, he had a mental health condition; his neighbors described him as “quiet, seemingly harmless and known to have learning disabilities.”
3. Hazard Community and Technical College, January 15
On the same day as the shooting in St. Louis, two people were shot dead in a parking lot at Hazard Community and Technical College in eastern Kentucky. 20-year-old Caitlin Cornett, who was a student at the college, and her uncle, 53-year-old Jackie Cornett, were killed. His 12-year-old daughter Taylor Cornett was also shot and died the next day from her injuries. Police recovered a semi-automatic, .40-caliber Glock pistol at the scene.
21-year-old Dalton Stidham turned himself into police afterwards and has admitted to the killings. He has been charged with two counts of murder, one related to domestic violence and with one count of attempted murder.
Police have said they do not think the shooting is “related to the school in any way” and that it involved a domestic dispute. The day before, Stidham and Cornett had been at a court hearing regarding a custody dispute over their 2-year-old son who was present during the shootings.
There is a long history of school shootings in the U.S., going back to the 19th century, says the Christian Science Monitor. With gun control now at the top of the national agenda, we have the chance to not add yet another terrible tragedy to the history books.
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