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Teacher Killed Outside School By Harasser

Teacher Killed Outside School By Harasser

This news is a little old (from last week), but after discovering it in Feministing‘s daily roundup, it made my evening much sadder.  A special education teacher was killed as she walked into the school where she taught, in Tacoma, Washington.  The shooting happened just before the children began arriving for school.  The suspect was killed in a shootout a few miles away, and police discovered that he seemed to have had a relationship with the victim – she had sought anti-harassment protection against him the week before.

“It sounds like he had an infatuation with her,” said Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum.  He added that they knew each other, but that their relationship was unclear.  But the fact that the suspect was waiting for her outside the school where she taught with a gun, waiting to shoot her, might make that relationship dynamic a little more apparent.  And it was probably a little more than an infatuation.

The article, from the Lakeland Ledger, a local paper, closes with the observation, “The shooting occurred three days after a 32-year-old man with a history of mental illness opened fire in a middle school parking lot in Colorado, wounding two students.”  This sounds like a horrifying tragedy also, but the thing that bothered me about the way the article was written was that it made this sound like the teacher’s death was a random act of violence, which it clearly was not.

Whenever I hear about killings like this, I think of George Sodini, and the number of people who defended him.  I think of the fact that he believed that he was justified in the murder of innocent women, just because he perceived that they had “rejected” him.  And then I read about cases like this, which are treated like simple violent outbursts.  This was not – it was premeditated.  The fact that the suspect was killed in the aftermath may make it easier to forget that the police clearly did something wrong – they didn’t listen well enough to this woman’s plea for help.

I go back, when I read about horrifying news like this, to what Bob Herbert wrote in the aftermath of the Sodini incident.  He said, “We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected. We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.” 

And although it’s hard to think about, we need to accept that women are killed every day because they are women – in our own country, and in others.  And when a woman is killed by someone who may have been harassing her, it’s not random violence.  And it’s certainly not something that we should write off, or ignore.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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56 comments

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5:05PM PST on Mar 13, 2010

It's very sad indeed.

7:37AM PST on Mar 12, 2010

it is a shame that she had to die, I wish they would make it more of punishment when someone stalks a person, before it get to the point where someone is either hurt or killed.. Normally police can't interfer until the stalker has done something criminal and that is a shame.

6:58AM PST on Mar 7, 2010

Which is why Wisconsin is considering a right-to-carry law for teachers. Unless you are in the teaching profession, you have no idea what is happening in our schools. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

I personally, would not go back to teaching unless I could carry a weapon. Sorry, pacifists, but you are NOT in the trenches, which is what our schools have become.

10:24AM PST on Mar 5, 2010

Too bad she didn't have a gun to defend herself.

9:24AM PST on Mar 5, 2010

sad

10:21PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

how do you balance a person's interpretation of a situation with what the situation really is? sometimes in relationships when things go bad the desire for revenge at worst and wanting to make the other person's life a living hell becomes the endgame. the police are put in the middle and the principle of innocent until proven guilty often had unhappy results. i wish there was an easy answer to this and i hate that people get hurt and some die as a result. over my life i know that males have been the assholes after breakups and often the causes of the breakups from my days in high school and on. i have to confess i wasn't always among the more enlightened of my gender until i realized that many of my problems were self induced, but that's another story. i am not in favor of living in a country or a world where person A can convince authorities just by say-so that i am a danger to him/her and i get arrested or detained when the issue is really someone elses hatred for me. yet it also isn't right that person A has to be assaulted or repeatedly harassed by me before something is done to stop the situation from escalating. i think it's people playing "games" with the law and with the police that hinder anything meaningful from getting done in dangerous situations that truly warrant intervention. the problem is to fix that people need to behave intelligently and responsibly. if they could do that we wouldn't be reading stories like this, would we?

6:27PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

"He said, "We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected. We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment." "

True. Misogyny has become internalized by many, men and women.

4:46PM PST on Mar 4, 2010

Rebecca R is absolutely correct. Most of the time, a restraining order is not worth the paper it is written on. It does let the person know you are paying attention to him or her. And, quite often, it exacerbates the situation by enraging the perpetrator.

Thanks for the info. on the book. I'm going to get it. That information just might save someone's life. Kudos for sharing.

6:42AM PST on Mar 4, 2010

if your in upstate ny there is chances and changes i been trying to get my friend to contact for about a week now. the problem is women once scared dont wanna leave the house they dont wanna be alone and scared but they are also too scared to get help... my dream is that women can stop being abused andd these perpetrators get bound and tagged so there will be no fear envolved. imagine knowing where your stalker is at all times. would be awesome as it is now all a protection order is is a piece of paper and it aint gonna stop him if he running at you. also i believe women should be allowed to carry special weapons to even the field i bought a tasor once and felt a little safer till i found out i had to get rid of it because its illegal in the new york state.

8:18PM PST on Mar 3, 2010

Very sad!!

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