Back in 2006, a 15-year-old who had taken a .50 caliber handgun from his stepfather’s nightstand shot a 16-year-old named Joe Monti four times in the back at Roseburg High School. The victim survived. The gunman was charged with attempted murder and at trial the prosecution played a recorded interrogation in which he told Roseburg Police Sgt. Joseph Kaney that he and a 14-year-old had been interested in two girls who were both smitten with Monti.
“They follow him,” the gunman was recorded telling Kaney. “When he’s there, we’re like nothing.”
Nine years later, Kaney arrived at the scene of another school shooting, this at the community college. The gunman this time was 23, but he was not just targeting a particular individual who made him feel like nothing. This gunman wanted to feel like something and he had decided that to achieve it he had to shoot as many people as he could.
To that end, he had brought six of his 13 guns. He had already shot 18 people when he was confronted by two officers. The New York Daily News has identified 49-year-old Kaney as one of them.
When the shooting stopped, the gunman was dead. UCC has a particular significance for Kaney, as this is where his wife, Dayna, a mother of five, studied nursing. Alumni who had studied emergency first aid there included a number of the paramedics with Douglas County Fire District No. 2. Among them was firefighter Justin Anspach.
We can only hope that Anspach was not on duty Thursday morning and aboard the ambulances from District No. 2 that arrived at the shooting scene. The dead included Anspach’s 20-year-old son, Treven.
“Treven was a perfect son,” his parents later said.
Also beyond saving was 18-year-old Lucas Eibel, one of quadruplets who had been nicknamed the Quad during their time at Roseburg High School. His family sought to describe the ways in which he was as unique as each of the three siblings with whom he shared a birthday.
“We have been trying to figure out how to tell everyone how amazing Lucas was, but that would take 18 years,” his family said in a statement. “Lucas loved Future Farmers of America, volunteering at Wildlife Safari, and Saving Grace animal shelter. He was an amazing soccer player… He was a Umpqua Community College scholars award recipient. He was studying chemistry.”
There were also 19-year-old Lucero Alcaraz and 59-year-old Kim Saltmarsh Dietz and 33-year-old Jason Dale Johnson and 67-year-old Lawrence Levine and 44-year-old Sarena Dawn Moore and 18-year-old Rebekka Ann Carnes, each an immeasurable loss.
All the dead were striving to make themselves somebody by virtue of study and work, not with guns. Quinn Cooper was just starting out.
“Quinn was only 18 years old,” his family noted in a statement. “He just graduated in June from Roseburg High School. Yesterday was his fourth day of college. Quinn was funny, sweet, compassionate and such a wonderful loving person. He always stood up for people.”
The Cooper family went on, “Our lives are shattered beyond repair. We send our condolences to all the families who have been so tragically affected by this deranged gunman. No one should ever have to feel the pain we are feeling.”
The family’s next words were difficult ones for those of us who have been left feeling only more passionately that the country needs meaningful gun control:
“We are hearing so many people talk about gun control and taking people’s guns away. If the public couldn’t have guns it wouldn’t help since sick people like this will always be able to get their hands on a gun(s).”
The Coopers closed by saying, “We need to be able to protect ourselves as a community and as a nation. Please don’t let this horrible act of insanity become about who should or shouldn’t have a gun. Please remember the victims and their families. Please remember Quinn.”
So what is a pro-gun control person to say? You cannot be silent if you believe that silence on guns will lead to even more killing.
Maybe we need to find some things on which all reasonable people can agree. Maybe we need to step away from politics, which seems to degenerate so quickly into liberal versus conservative.
Maybe we need to talk as Americans about a culture that glorifies violence.
Maybe if we cannot agree on controlling guns we can at least join to make it clear that anyone who takes up a gun to murder innocents is less than nobody, and becomes even less so with each death.
After paramedics from District No. 2 and other units rushed the wounded to a hospital, Kaney and the other cops on the scene vouchered the rifle and the five handguns the killer had brought to UCC. He had put forth an equation in his blog that “the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
Police recovered seven more guns in the killer’s apartment, for a total of 13.
Next will come the funerals for the dead, who total nine.