18 February 2010

Library Phantom Shooter

Two days ago, there was a shooting scare on campus. Someone allegedly saw a gunman enter Lockwood Library with a rifle.

Thus, in that afternoon, tons of policemen surged to the library, and evacuated the building. We all got email messages that the library was evacuated, and an hour later, all classes were canceled for the rest of the evening.

It later turned out that the library was secure, and there was no sign of the gunman whatsoever.

This was a couple of days after the University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting, where there was one professor who allegedly shot three of her colleagues because the university was denying her tenure.

It therefore becomes a thing to ponder about why educational institutions such as high schools and universities become the target of shootings. Is it because that students are seen as vulnerable and easy targets? Is it because that these educational institutions foster an image of easy shooting practice? Or is it simply that shootings happen everywhere, but it's just that the ones that happen in educational institutions get more publicity?

I actually was acting stupid that afternoon, during the shooting scare. It wasn't until my classmate who had an office next to me who would not leave until I pack my bags and leave as well that I decided to leave campus and go home. My first idea was that if there was indeed a shooter, then I would be safe cocooning myself in the office.

In the end, it turned out to be nothing. But I would rather have it to be nothing than something.

(Statue and the Ceiling, from my Library of Congress Series)


  1. Kind scary indeed, but I think I would have reacted like you!

    Do they know who saw the "gunman"? Did the person make that up or...?

    I remember in France in the 90s, we had so many bomb scares at school and in various public places (following a series of terrorist attacks) nobody was paying attention at the end.

  2. Zhu,

    Well, the person who called the police was apparently there, and it seems that he really didn't make it up, that for him/her, s/he really thought that there was a gunman. I guess it's just a case of misperception and constructed reality based on the events that happened recently, like in Alabama.

  3. As I recall, there's been several shooting incidents in schools across the US these past several years so I can just imagine how someone would feel so paranoid about anything that resembles a gun.

  4. TNP,

    True. There must be some psychological term for that, but given that it is not my area, I am blanking out right now.