Just over a month ago, a gunman in Odessa, Texas killed seven people and wounded 22 more in a shooting spree.
It’s one of the many such incidents we hear about in what seems like almost daily reports from distant places. Tragedies that cause us to shake our heads, or bow our heads, before moving on with the rest of our day.
This particular incident wasn’t quite as distant for me, and it’s still on my mind.
A girl who grew up next door to me is now a mother with two children, living in Odessa. We talk almost daily on the phone, about everything from what to pick up at the grocery store for dinner that night to how to juggle life, family and work.
She was two blocks away from one of the shootings, shopping with her mother and young daughter. Her son and father were closer, at a restaurant having a Saturday afternoon lunch near one of the attacks.
She and her mother and daughter passed through an intersection where a man was carjacked and killed about 15 minutes later.
And the youngest victim who was wounded, a 17-month-old girl, is the daughter of a member of my friend’s church.
There were 15 different crime scenes where people were injured or lost their lives that day, and she drives by at least three of them every day to go back and forth to work. I’ve been to some of the locations as well, when I’ve visited her over the years.
Her daughter is too young to really understand or question what happened, but she spent time that Sunday trying to figure out what to say to her teenage son.
It’s not a question I can answer.
Not after FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs told members of the news media the FBI is “here now almost every other week supporting our local and state partners on active shooters. We’re almost every two weeks (at) an active shooter in this country.”
My sister also told me a story recently that had been weighing on her mind. It was an article she read about an elementary school student who didn’t want light up shoes.
The student said she was afraid her shoes would flash and attract the attention of an active shooter, if one came to her school.
My sister’s son will be eight months old soon.
We spend a lot of time talking about the fact that there is a problem, and I certainly don’t know the answers.
But sometimes it feels like the people who should be looking for answers are more interested in being the loudest or scoring the most points in what is truly a heartbreaking debate.
I often wonder if the answers to these questions might not be so far out of reach if we would look first at how we treat each other and last at how to use these tragedies to further our own causes.