8-Year-Old Boy's Death in School Shooting Is a Nightmare for All Parents

kids evacuated from schoolMario Anzuoni, ReutersYet another heartbreaking school shooting has occurred, this time in San Bernardino, California: In what police are calling a murder-suicide, 53-year-old Cedric Anderson walked into a special needs classroom at North Park Elementary School with a large caliber revolver and opened fire, killing his estranged wife, Karen Elaine Smith (a teacher at the school), and injuring two students, one of whom died later at a hospital. Anderson then killed himself.

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The two students who were struck were reportedly standing behind Smith when Anderson started shooting. 

Eight-year-old Jonathan Martinez passed away at Loma Linda University Medical Center after being airlifted from the school; the other student who was struck, a 9-year-old boy, is currently listed in stable condition at the hospital. There were apparently 15 students from grades one through four, as well as two adult aides, in the classroom at the time of the shooting. Police don't think the two kids who were hit were being targeted, but that they were simply standing too close to Smith. 

San Bernardino school shooting
SanBernardinoPD/Twitter

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How could something like this happen -- yet again? In this case, part of the problem was that Anderson was likely a familiar person to the people in the school, said San Bernardino Police Capt. Ron Maass, the incident commander. Being that he was Smith's husband (even though the two had been separated for about a month and only married for a few months before that), it probably didn't raise any red flags when he told the employees in the front office that he wanted to drop something off with his wife. His handgun was not visible when he entered this school, and San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said that it's not uncommon for spouses of employees to visit the school campus.

San Bernardino school shooter
SanBernardinoPD/Twitter

"He came in, and very, very quickly upon entering the classroom started shooting," Burguan told reporters.

Parents reportedly rushed to the school after hearing about the shooting, but children were evacuated and reunited with their families at a nearby high school. One father trying to find his daughter told KABC how he felt when he heard the news.

"I fell to my knees and started saying Our Fathers and Hail Marys," Brad Hendran said.

"I'm gonna hug her ... I'm gonna hug her. I hope she is okay."

As a mother of three, I can't even begin to imagine the panic these parents experienced. Just a couple of weeks ago, my daughter's high school went into a lockdown when a threat was found written on the bathroom wall (something along the lines of "everybody's going to die"). Dozens of police officers responded and the students were held for hours while the school was searched. Thankfully, no one was hurt -- but my heart is still in my throat, and the students are still feeling rattled. How must the kids at North Park Elementary feel, knowing that one of their peers was murdered at school? How are the parents coping? 

We're not supposed to have to worry about our kids coming home alive when we drop them off at school in the morning. School is supposed to be a safe place. Violence in our schools has become so commonplace that lockdown drills are just a regular part of student life (at first, my daughter and her classmates just assumed they were having yet another drill). The fact that this has become our reality is an outrage -- but more than anything else, it's a tragedy.

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And, yet again, there is of course the question of how and why Anderson -- who had a "criminal history" -- had a gun to begin with.  

CNN reports that according to court records, he faced criminal charges of brandishing a weapon, assault, and crimes against public peace (though those charges were later "dismissed or not prosecuted"). There were also, in recent years, two petitions for temporary restraining orders filed against him by women.

Something needs to change. Something needs to change very, very soon.

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