Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Reflection: The Events at Aurora

I've spent some time over the past couple of days thinking about the events in Aurora, Colorado this past Thursday evening. At a showing of the of "The Dark Knight Rises", the theater was attacked by a lone gunman who, in addition to carrying a large quantity of ammunition for four known weapons, was also carrying smoke canisters that he had allegedly used prior to opening fire in the theater. The last count I heard was 12 dead, including a 6 year-old girl. Approximately 50 were wounded.

The alleged shooter is 24 year-old James Holmes, an almost former graduate student at the University of Colorado. He told police that his apartment was rigged with explosives, and when that was confirmed, the amount of munitions inside the apartment set to go off upon entry was just staggering.

When I read the news reports and saw the video on Friday, I simply couldn't believe it. I say that because it took a little bit of time for this to register. I mean, what would motivate someone to do something this nasty? As I learned more, it became clear in my mind that the person who would act in this way represents evil in its purest form. I say this in light of the way that he was reported to have planned this act. Between the explosives in his apartment, the reports of shipped goods he received (large quantities of stuff, according to news reports), and the description of how he was found by police - he is supposed to have told officers that he is "The Joker" - is enough for me to draw some disturbing conclusions.

First, the amount of planning that went into this was considerable. There was a lot of detail, from the way the theater was entered (he bought tickets so that he could blend in to the crowd) to the timers he set in his apartment to turn lights on and off, start music playing, etc., indicates intent. 

Second, he had no set targets. He just went into the theater and started shooting almost indiscriminately. He didn't care who he hit.

Third, I don't know if he expected to get away or not. But I believe he was planning to get caught. The way in which he was apprehended indicates this; he didn't resist. At the same time, his mug shot hasn't been published by authorities as of yet. Is it possible that he was beaten in custody? Or is it because his appearance is disturbing enough to cause trouble for those who were victims?

From the perspective of those who responded to this incident, it is a testament to the courage of all involved: 

  • The survivors
  • The people in the theater who attempted to protect victims
  • The police officers, firefighters, and EMT's/Paramedics who responded to the scene
  • The families who have to deal with the aftermath

It is a horrible tragedy for everyone who was victimized. At the same time, I can't use the word "disturbed" to describe the alleged shooter. I can, however, again use the word "evil" as a descriptor because it fits. And it definitely reaffirms my belief that evil exists. Also, it makes me see that so much good exists as well, and I hang on to that.

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