A Message to a Friend on a Shooting | Teen Ink

A Message to a Friend on a Shooting

February 4, 2010
By LarryB SILVER, Macomb, Illinois
LarryB SILVER, Macomb, Illinois
5 articles 0 photos 6 comments

I don't know who to talk to about this or how; I have so much on my mind right now, and you're the only one I know who can understand me on my level.

At 1:30, my worst nightmare had come true. A school-wide lock-down procedure had been initiated; I was stuck in my AP European History classroom. (Y'know, the same AP Euro I was working on during the SRV Speech tournament?) The good news was I had a substitute, which was a very good thing. The bad news was that it was still AP Euro, and it ran into my next class Composition 102. The good news is that we saw a Discovery Scholastics video talking about the book "Heart of Darkness," which the movie "Apocalypse Now!" is based off of AND they showed clips from that movie!!! The bad news is we had to take notes. The good news is that the rest of the period was just slacking off.

At about 2:00, when the video ended, I was feeling mostly good. There was the initial panic that there was an intruder in the building, and that's usually why we go into lock-down. I even instructed the person sitting behind me with the following: "Should the intruder enter this classroom, I want you to push your books off of your desk and drop to the floor. I will push the desks into him (the desks were chair-to-desk with a couple feet left for the door), giving you time to get to the fire extinguisher and hit him in the head twice." "Or," he said, "I could use my book as a boomerang to hit him in the nose." "The point-blank fire extinguisher is more accurate..."

It quickly became apparent that there was no immediate danger; this was all a part of a shooting that happened at Farm King. HOLY S*** WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!?! The girl with the WGEM text-updates told us that 20 rounds had been fired at a Farm King. Farm King is about 1.5 miles away from the school. Wow, I really hope nobody got hurt.... Later, she told me that the man who was doing the shooting was Jonathan Labe, a senior last year who punched a kid and a chickenwire window on a door. He's got anger issues, I thought.

The rest of the period was playing quizzes at Sporcle.com, especially Disney film quizzes. (Great site, you'd love it!) Around 3:00, the almighty voice from above proclaimed that we must stay in our classrooms beyond normal dismissal time, 3:05. We left 3:10. Before I left, I got fantastic news from Mr. Jordan; that research paper on logic that I've been stressing about? DUE MONDAY! SWEET!!!!

Right about now, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I read some Zen for the Composition class, since I had a take-home quiz (also due monday) and finished the three assigned chapters. I decided to take a look at what was being reported. It was even more serious than I thought... It turned into a hostage situation, with 6 people in the Farm King holed up somewhere else in the store. Four policemen with guns were at the entrance. This no longer concerns me so much; I have a homework assignment pushed back because of this and I feel a lot more stress free.

About an hour ago, I was sitting at my computer in my room, ready to crack open a fresh programming problem. This was about Monopoly, my favorite board game EVER. It's formal problem definition is on ProjectEuler.net and it's problem #84, if you're interested. I digress. I'm just about to delve in deep when I get a knock on the door. I say yes. My mom enters.

"Jonathan Labbe? He was the guy from the Farm King shooting?"
"He just shot himself."
"Oh, my...."

She went to me and hugged me. She was about to leave when I said:

"Could you close the door on your way out?"
"This is a bad thing."
"Yes, it is."

But the way I said it.... It's bothering me.

Do I even care that a human being found it necessary to shoot himself in a violent situation? Was he crying? Was he facing off police, pointing a semi-automatic at his head, and crying?

I don't know. It doesn't really matter, I don't think. I tried to start programming again, but it bugged me how glib I was about the whole situation. I was doing math and a person died in Macomb. I just learned a person shot himself, a person who has friends at my school, a person whose friends are my friends. I went downstairs and had a piece of celery. I looked at the news. It was true. All of it.


I needed to talk to someone about this. I got up Facebook and looked at the statuses. This one stood out.

"i hope everyone who has ever gone out of their way to make fun of someone and constantly beat them up with words feels more than horrible for what they caused."

I wanted to say something, but what could I say? I was never really connected to the guy. I didn't know who he was. I've never seen the guy around; he only existed in semi-attributable stories and rumors.

"...we were friends in 3rd grade"

I don't know who he is!!! Why should I feel bad about him? Should I feel bad about him? He's a human being; what motivated a guy to think that killing himself was the best answer?

"Don't disgrace a name that you have no idea of the person behind it. I feel sorry for those involved and the scars that will remain with them, but if they truly tried to get to know him, this wouldn't be what they'd have seen. I feel horrible that he felt like this was his only way out. R.I.P. Jonathan."

You know that feeling you get when your stomach drops to your feet and suddenly things are terrible, when you hang your head because of how horrible something makes you feel? I'm not getting that feeling.

Am I drifting? Am I slowly moving away from some sort of reality that everyone's connected to? That one man, or a thousand people, or a million members of the human race can cease to think, to learn, to love. Why doesn't that bother me?

Is it the society we live in? Have we always been this way towards our fellow man? Am I desensitized to this violence that pervades the existence of mankind? Is there any other way I could live?

Maybe there is a time to let go and move on; maybe that's what I'm doing. Life goes on.... This too shall pass.

I don't feel bad. I haven't felt bad all day. I have a whole extra weekend to do my research paper. And it's all thanks to Jonathan Labbe. I can thank an angry, dead 19-year-old for moving back my research paper and letting me go to Game Night on thursday so I can play Call of Duty. I can make the best out of this situation.

I have no place mourning the death of a person I don't know. Shouldn't I then utilize his death to my advantage? See, it's that wording that disturbs me. I'm starting to think that there's something terribly wrong with me....

I need to talk to you right now. Please.

The author's comments:
A disturbing event happened. I reached out to a friend I can trust with my life. This is the message I sent to her. I still feel uneasy.

On February 3rd, 2010, at a Farm King store close to the school, a human being, after only 19 years on the Earth, met his end in a horrible, violent death. I do not mourn his death; I do commiserate with those who knew him. May He bless those who mourn and comfort all who are bereaved.

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