Columbine and Paducah school shootings

June 18, 2009 at 9:01 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Columbine: A True Crime Story book tour continued Thursday in Paducah, Ky. where a school shooting killed three and wounded five in 1997.

The talk was in the community room at the McCracken County Library and I first met with the library director. It’s alway weird to meet someone you’ve been coordinating with on the phone, and it’s always a bit of a leap for both people: You have to believe the location is the right one, and they have to believe you’re on the up and up — and that you’ll show up. And after all that planning, it is weird to suddenly arrive at a place like Paducah, a small but bustling town in East Kentucky.

A reporter from the local NPR station was there – he had already done a preview piece on the talk and was looking to do a longer one now (as I understand it). I think we both got what we were looking for.

But first I introduced myself to the people who had arrived early: It’s nice to know who your audience is and connect with people. There were two former workers from the school and two women who work with troubled juveniles.

I think the talk was well-received, and as usual, people were reluctant at first to ask questions. But there are always questions, and they did come up. But what was also great is that the audience at times ignored me. I say great because my talk had opened up a discussion amongst people. One of the women who works with troubled kids made a good point that people should consider volunteering or helping out with juvenile programs rather than criticizing after the fact. (Although I still think there are valid criticisms of Columbine and probably how certain things were handled in other shootings). It’s always interesting to see how people will react to my arguments on how and why school shootings occur in the South and West — especially when you’re in the South –but no one disagreed with me.

After the talk I went to the memorials (there are two large stone engravings next to each other) located at Heath High School and read the names of the dead and injured.


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