By what seems an odd coincidence, of sorts, one of the first things I wrote here was The 33rd Stone about the shootings at Virginia Tech and the stone someone placed in memory of Seung-Hui Cho, the young man who did the killing. While I could not make sense of the incident itself, I could of the desire to remember the humanity, however, flawed, of the person responsible.
Watching the continuing news reports on the events in DeKalb, I realize that what is remarkable about these recent shootings is that those who are not intimately connected with the people or the place cannot place the event into any kind of narrative that makes some kind of sense in terms of how and why it happened and how it might have been prevented. The early portrait of Steven Kazmierczak has not been one of the deranged, angry, anti-social outsider like the ones given for Cho or the boys at Columbine. Notwithstanding the forces that may have contributed to their sense of isolation, there was little sympathy for them. Indeed, they were demonized, viewed as some kind of horrific Other. Hence the extraordinary gift of compassion in placing the 33rd stone.
Steven, however, was a young, white, Polish-American (anything but Other in northern Illinois) who had a history of academic success and was known by many as a sociable, caring person. There may be more details revealed as time goes on, the things that people did not notice or did not get into school records, but whatever led him to act as he did, it seems clear that there was probably nothing anyone could have done to prevent this tragedy. He was not currently a student at N.I.U. and, by all accounts, campus security and police responded as quickly as possible. He also apparently obtained his weapons legally. And although I, for one, would like to see much more stringent gun control in this country, at least one of the guns was a shotgun, ownership and use of which will probably always be protected in the U.S.
So, there is no story here, no hook for the media, no cause to be fought, only death and injury and madness.
All there is to do is weep and pray for Steven and his victims, including Daniel Parmenter, Catalina Garcia, Ryanne Mace, Julianna Gehant, and Gayle Dubowski, all those who were injured, their families and friends, and everyone in the DeKalb community.