29 September 2006

No Answers In Bailey

Tragedies are predictable to different degrees. We knew that someone, someday, will bring guns into a school and kill. There was no way that anyone could have known it would be Duane Morrison.

He was not a man with a long criminal record. He had a minor offense 13 years ago, and was facing charges on another minor offense now. He owned guns, but as a legitimate outdoorsman, all but the most draconian gun laws would have allowed him to own those guns.

Contrary to initial reports, there was not a domestic dispute pending between him and someone who worked at Platte Canyon High School. Indeed, it appears that he had no connection with the school at all. There were no prior threats, no run ins that captured anyone's attention. He may have planned it, but no one knew that.

He was a loner, but not totally disconnected from society. He had years of experience working as a carpenter building decks. He was part of a group that helped run a haunted house. He had brought women to his apartment complex to use the pool and been a gentlemen, not even having them into his apartment. He borrowed one of the guns used from a relative, apparently under innocent pretenses.

He apparently didn't like the Broncos, but that is no crime.

He was a Baptist. No one claims that this crime had religious overtones.

He may have been homeless. But, there is no sign that he ever asked for help or even alerted anyone to his plight.

He meant to die. He left a suicide note. He didn't tell anyone in advance.

One can second guess the Sheriff's decision to move in. The Sheriff himself has done so. But, I have no doubt that the decision was made in good faith. Knowing, in hindsight, that the man intended to kill himself from the outset, it may have been the right decision and may have saved one girl's life, at least.

One could fault the school for not maintaining tighter security, something a test visit had disclosed not long before, but schools are not prisons. Who knows, had a parent wandered in at the same time, that parent might have noticed something wrong and been able to act.

The design of the school did as much good as harm. And, one can't just rebuild every school with security in mind, which might play out differently in a different incident.

Sometimes, shit happens. I've seen it called the "reverse lottery" and you don't have to buy a ticket to lose it. Maybe you're some high school kid having an ordinary day when a lunatic comes from nowhere and rapes or kills you. Maybe you're driving around Boston with your husband and a massive piece of concrete falls from the ceiling of the tunnel you are in without warning. Maybe you're a family driving down I-70 and a bridge under construction collapses on you. Maybe you're a cop driving down the road on your lunch break and a nut out to kill at random shoots you and you're dead.

Bad things happen to completely innocent people for no reason whatsoever that they could have ever known or prevented. Random fatal total unexpected bad luck is more rare than we might think, but it happens. Sometimes someone else could have prevented it. Sometimes there is just nothing anyone could have done.

1 comment:

Jude said...

Hey, I'm the one who would call it a reverse lottery.

I tried and failed to create a coherent post about what happened in Bailey. I'm grateful for your ability to write better than I and create two coherent posts about what happened. Thanks.