This is very difficult for me to write, but I found out this morning that my alma mater high school, Saugus High, was placed on lockdown after an active shooter rampaged through at 7:30 AM and shot several students, some of whom died, with a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. I have numerous friends and family who work at that school or have kids who go there, some of which were quite intimately involved in the incident. Just last week, my son’s middle school was placed on lockdown due to a threat of an active shooting, which fortunately turned out to be a false alarm.
Sources at Saugus High School who knew the alleged gunman described him as someone who was actively involved in student government, martial arts, and just not the kind of individual you would ever suspect would do something like this. He lived just a little over a mile from where I grew up, and finding out about this tragic incident just broke my heart. I never thought nor imagined that such an incident would happen at Saugus High in Santa Clarita, which used to be one of the safest cities in the United States, but it did happen there and it could happen anywhere. Some behavioral signs were missed, including an Instagram post from the alleged shooter which may have hinted at this incident, which happened on his 16th birthday today. I am certain you will hear a lot of details about this horrific act in the coming days and weeks on the news. Several young students lost their lives, but the outcome could have been worse if it weren’t for the swift actions of police and SWAT team members.
This incident is a reminder that we need to be sensitive to others because we never truly know what they are going through. Not everyone who is capable of such a horrific act will play the part of it until it’s too late, as was the case today. People who are in need of intervention may not show obvious signs, and there is no way to predict behavior accurately, but an attitude of sensitivity and compassion towards someone goes a long way. You might be the only person in their lives who gives them positive feedback and attention. You might mean a lot more to others than you realize. Please take a moment to reflect on what happened in Santa Clarita today and think of the victims and their families. Nobody should have to go through this.
Howard Blumenfeld is a mathematics professor at Las Positas College with a keen interest in psychology, neurology, cognitive science, and philosophy. He earned his B.A. in Pure Mathematics with Minor Degrees in Psychology and Literature at the University of California, San Diego, and his M.A. in Mathematics (Emphasis on Community College Education) from San Diego State University. In his spare time, he likes to cook, lift weights, and spend time with his beautiful wife and son.