Friday, May 30, 2014

Gun Incident Near Clairemont School: A Mother's Thoughts

There was a scary incident this week in Clairemont. Elementary students at a public school saw a man pointing a gun at the school and, rightly, reported it. The school was locked down while SDPD responded and took the man into custody. No one was hurt. Rachel, mother of a student shares her thoughts about it, and the bigger picture.

As I was driving towards John Muir School to pick up my 5 year old at the end of the day yesterday, I noticed we were behind a news van.  There was a helicopter circling overhead. In the two minutes it took me to park, I saw three police cars and a deserted school yard. The school buses were not there and the gates for their arrival were locked. My daughter’s bicycle, that she had ridden to school yesterday morning and we had forgotten to take home, sat quietly isolated on the dirt playground, her purple handlebar streamers flying in the wind. Something was very wrong. I frantically took my two younger girls out of the car and asked the nearest policeman what was going on.

Suspect in custody
Her school was on lockdown. An armed man was across the street, refusing to surrender to police and unclear in his intentions. The officer didn't know when the students would be released but assured me they were safely locked in their classrooms. Officers were on campus, they had the man surrounded and the neighborhood barricaded. I cannot begin to explain the horrific thoughts and feelings that swallowed me then. I have never felt like that before and I hope I never will again.

All I wanted to do was to run in and grab my girl, scoop her up in my arms and take her home with me where she'd be safe. But she was 100 yds away from me, in a room with its blinds drawn and doors shut tight. And I had my other two children with me. We went back to the car. For the next 30 minutes, I tried to explain to my 3 year old what a gun was, why it was dangerous and why we couldn't be with her big sister. All while trying to hold myself together. Talk about difficult conversations.

In the end, the lockdown was lifted at 4:15pm. The man was taken into custody. It appears that some students on the playground saw him pointing a rifle at them from a house that bordered the schoolyard. My daughter's teacher didn't tell her much and she was relatively fine upon pick-up but there were a lot of questions that night. The last thing she said to me before falling asleep was, "Why do guns exist if they can hurt people?"  And the humorous part in all this, if there can be one, is that my 3 year old kept referring to the "goon shutter" (gun shooter) and my 5 year old kept referring to either the "drop down" or "duck lock" (lockdown).

I write this dramatic account in an attempt to share a very horrendous personal experience but also to remind us that the increase in school shootings and gun issues, as well as the myriad of related topics such as mental illness and drug abuse, affects us all. It feels like it becomes increasingly more personal each time, but this was closer than ever. I urge everyone to keep this in mind when those petitions come around, when it's time to vote or when a rally is held. Don't let opportunities to create change pass you by because it hasn't yet affected you personally or you feel like you have no power. It's enough already and I am going to re-vamp my own efforts to figure out ways to make my voice heard. If I don't, I am not doing my duty as a parent to try as hard as I can to make this world safe for my children.


  1. That must have been nerve racking waiting for your daughter.
    I grew up learning how to shoot guns at targets at a range by a boys out leader.
    I was pro choice for a while until all of these school shootings.
    My son is a student at UCSB. He lives on Sabado Tarde Rd in Isla Vista. He and his girlfriend had just gotten back from getting food and were up on the balcony when they heard firecrackers and looked over the side. They saw the black BMW drive up and fire shots and hit a young man. They saw the car drive down towards the park. I am so blessed they were not shot. My heart goes out to all the families and friends of the young people who were killed and injured physically and mentally.
    This has to stop.
    It was to easy for these people to buy these guns.
    I am very lucky they were

    1. Kimberly,
      I am not one to fight the second amendment but I completely agree things are out of control. When the majority of Americans support common sense reforms, it is incredibly frustrating to watch our politicians take so little action. I'm sorry to hear about your son's experience. It really does seem that every time it hits a little closer to home. Thanks for your support and I encourage you to share your story and mine with everyone you know! The louder our voices, the greater chance some change will take place.

  2. I understand the desire to protect our children, but I have to ask what law could be implemented that would have prevented this? Purchasing a firearm already requires a background check, and in California a waiting period. The federal laws already prohibit firearms within "school safety zones."

    By the way, homicide rates, by guns or otherwise, are all down over the last 20 years. While their prevalence in the news may be more visible, the numbers have been on the decline for quite a while.


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