The instant that Aaron Ybarra's face flashed across the television screen, I recognized him. I'd seen this young man dozens of time, passing him in the corridor at the college where I teach and he studied. His family live in the same suburban neighborhood that I do. He always looked like a nice enough kid, perhaps a bit more unkempt than average. I never spoke with him, but we exchanged friendly smiles at least once.
Apparently he'd had a history with the local police for minor, non-violent offenses and been taken to the local hospital for "evaluation," but there seemed no reason to believe he was a potential danger to himself or others.
Chatting about the case in the elevator with another teacher, I remarked (not for the first time) that maybe we needed to think about locking our classrooms while teaching. An instructor from another department jumped in, told me to "chill out" and said something to the effect that I was fear-mongering. Then she flounced off, her sandals slapping the floor as she strode down the hall. I was a bit stung by her response.
I'll admit I can be something of a "nervous nellie." Perhaps I do suffer from a degree of PTSD, having, years ago in Teheran, experienced shots being aimed in my direction and seen slogans painted in blood on my garden wall. Blithely turning a corner to find oneself facing the business end of a row of firing rifles leaves a person with a certain degree of hyper-vigilance, and an enduring awareness that awful things can happen most randomly.
Of course the possibility of being caught in an event like the shootings yesterday is scary, however remote the statistical probability. Some people like me respond by anxiously pre-calculating how to reduce the odds; some people respond with angry denial. Meanwhile, the official administrative recommendations (to run away if possible, hide if escape is not possible, and fight if cornered) are so obvious that they hardly justify communicating.
Not to mention that they seem to ignore the fact that the only reason that the shooter's tally wasn't greater was because at least one person on the scene did not follow the "official guidelines," but instead risked his own life by overpowering Ybarra, wrestling him to the ground, and subduing him with pepper spray until police arrived.