It Dawned on Me: Shooting in Roseburg

Dawn De Busk

Dawn De Busk

By Dawn De Busk

BN Columnist

The foreign terrorist attacks on 9-11 resulted in the increased patriotism of Americans. Similarly, the actions of a supposed “fellow countryman” who slayed nine people and injured dozens during a shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Ore., has ultimately strengthened the faith of the Christian community in that town.

More accurately, the events that unfolded have brought faith and loving support into the spotlight during a very dark hour.

Two weeks ago — on a Thursday, a gunman opened fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College.

Two days passed before I learned about the Oct. 1 shooting. In an instant, it registered that this gunman shooting had happened in Roseburg — the town which my parents have called home since 1996.

As a result, the details of that day and what has gone on since have a greater connection for me — it is an experience that has touched my parents and their acquaintances in a real way.

It hurts when it hits close to home.

For my mom, who heard about the shooting almost instantaneously from an Internet news-sharing site, it was like being hit in the stomach. She said that she could not cry liquid tears. Instead, deep sobs overtook her body. Inevitably, she knew people who were on the campus at the time, and people who have sat beside the hospital beds of injured family members — many of whom have numerous gunshot wounds. According to news articles, one man was shot seven times, while trying to talk sense into the gunman.

For me, it is always disturbing to hear news of random shootings. It is hard to be jaded about people being killed or injured by the bullets of someone who has ruminated about doing that very thing in a very public way. This summer alone, gunmen have taken aim at strangers or intended victims during summertime services at a Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston; at movie theaters in Lafayette, La., and in Nashville, Tenn.; at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn.; and even during a live television news broadcast. In 2015, there have been 45 shootings at schools and colleges in the United States.

Truly, how could Americans become jaded by such a high the number of random shootings? The reaction should be the opposite. People in society should be more concerned, not more nonchalant.

The Oregon community college shootings were particularly cruel because the perpetrator asked his victims to state their religion. Those who said they were Christian were told that they would meet their Maker soon. The gunman shot those people in the head, execution style. Those who delayed their answer received a gut shot. In some of the news articles, witnesses said the gunman laughed maniacally after he shot his victims.

Incidences such as these bring about the usual discussions: Debates on gun control versus gun freedom, and debates on treatment of mental illness.

The slayings in Roseburg on Oct. 1 have a deeper level, a morbid twist — much like the gunshots heard in a house of worship on the night of June 17.

Years ago, I had a girlfriend, Lisa, who had grown up in the Church of Latter Day Saints. While remaining in a spirit of friendship, she and I would debate or outline the differing details of our religion. The Book of Mormon, which was used in addition to The Bible, stated that a certain number of truly evil souls have been pre-ordained to be unleashed into the world, Lisa explained. The evil does not take the obvious form of a demon or a goblin, but it arrives in the human body, she said.

That was a hard concept for me to accept at age 19. I believe all people have the capacity for good. Even now, I cannot commit to the belief that other humans who walk the Earth are truly evil. The idea becomes plausible as more and more people step into the public eye by pulling the trigger on faultless individuals, leaving behind the digging of graves and the task of healing for so many.

On Oct. 5, a (theology) instructor at UCC posted her comments on Facebook.

“The swat team released my class and me from lockdown on Thursday. My brain and body are trying to get some things done. My heart, however, is still a bit in lockdown,” she wrote.

Upon reading her entry, a man wrote, “I’m almost ashamed of the unintended grief we may have visited upon anyone else by hoping desperately that you were not among the hurt or killed.”

In a later entry, the female UCC instructor talked about struggling with being broken and furious. She relied on the strength of students returning to classes this week. All the while, she admitted that the emotions would continue to cycle from relying on support, to giving support, to being angry to finding temporary comfort.

Healing is a long journey. But, the images of gunfire and the pain of death can be countered (and one day overpowered) by prayer, kind words, or the warmth of a hug from “the phenomenal people all around here to help us.”

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