Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Shooting at LAX - How YOU could have prevented it

In case some of you haven’t heard, there was a shooting at LAX, a major airport in California, USA.  Paul Ciancia walked into the airport and with a motorcycle helmet on started shooting an assault rifle, killing TSA officer Geraldo Hernandez and wounding two other officers. He was later shot by police and is currently hospitalized but unable to speak.
Now that you’ve gotten some background, I want to tell you that the point of this writing is not to report to you about yet another public shooting but to WAKE YOU UP! Yes, dear reader, I am talking to YOU! There were so many clues leading up to this particular tragedy that it leaves me with my mouth agape and fully enraged wondering why didn’t somebody DO SOMETHING? He sent rambling texts to several friends, people who knew him well, people who say they thought he was acting “weird” and out of his normal state. And it went on for an extended period of time. He became introverted, quiet and anti-social. He became suspicious of governmental agencies and developed an anger for, specifically, the TSA. He talked about something bad about to happen; at one point, he texted several different people at one in the morning with messages saying he had something very important to tell them and asking them to call him back as soon as possible; he asked all his roommates at different points to give him a ride to the airport so he can get back home to New Jersey but didn’t have a specific flight to get on. It goes on.

 So, I ask his roommates and friends: Why didn’t you ask him if something was wrong? Why didn’t you ask him if he needed help? Why didn’t you ask him to dinner, to drinks, to a game, something, anything, to feel him out?? And if some of you did, and he denied there being a problem, why didn’t you try harder? All of them are now saying, “I never thought he could do something like this.” Really? Well, guess what? He could and he did. Just before the shooting, his family in New Jersey called the police in their area to ask they contact the police in Los Angeles to do a welfare check after receiving a series of odd texts. They were concerned that he was getting ready to hurt himself. Unfortunately, the police arrived about 45 minutes too late. A roommate had already driven him to LAX and the shooting had already commenced.
Now two families are suffering tragic losses. The family of the shooter is suffering with shock and disbelief and grief. They will undoubtedly be judged for their son’s actions for a time to come. Officer Hernandez’s family is suffering greatly as well. His unnecessary and untimely death will impact every family member for the rest of their lives. His is the first death in the line of fire of a TSA officer since its inception in 2001.

Now I want you to THINK. Think about the people in your lives. Your friends, your sisters, brothers, uncles, cousins, your co-workers, your Facebook contacts. Is anybody standing out in your mind because they’ve changed? Has anyone stopped interacting as much as they used to online or stopped showing up at social outings they were always a part of? Does anyone who used to be talkative now barely speak? Has someone become withdrawn, seem sad or mad all the time or talk about odd topics you’ve never heard them talk about before?
Invite them to lunch. Stop by their home with bagels and a box of joe. Ask their immediate family members or other loved ones if they’ve noticed the same thing. Follow your instincts – if your gut is telling you something is off, then it IS. Don’t wait for somebody else to do something. BE THAT SOMEBODY. You could save a life! After the LAX shooting – and countless others in very recent history – that is an unfortunate understatement.