In our small Purdue community, it's sometimes easy to lose focus on the fact that the rest of the world doesn't know what's going on. They might not know that AJ Hammons is an absolute monster on the basketball court when he's focused on the task at hand…They might not know that Purdue has a stable chocked full of talented young QBs who could lead the program back to relevance.
And, even as Twitter and Facebook were ablaze with news and rumor of a shooting in West Lafayette, much of the world went about its business. As you might or might not know, my fellow founder of BS works in Midtown Manhattan. Purdue updates aren't on the local news in NY…and he has a real job that discourages him from checking Twitter every hour or so…so when he texted me this afternoon, he had no idea what had happened on the campus of our Fair Alma Mater. But when he learned, like you, he was shocked and saddened.
News traveled extremely quickly via social networking. Twitter did what Twitter is best at- disseminated information; good info, rumor, half-truths and stark realities. The problem is, all of that info; the correct and incorrect was in the hands of everyone, so it was pretty confusing for a while.
What we now know is a lone shooter shot and killed one person in the EE building on campus.
There are no reputable reports of other injuries, in spite of exaggerations that were initially spread. There are no good sources that say there were multiple gunman…but the students didn't know that right away.
Purdue used an emergency text system to put campus in a lockdown and keep people where they were until they knew that Police had apprehended all parties involved. Purdue students were locked in hallways, classrooms, cafeterias and dormrooms as they did what you and I tried to do- find out what really happened.
I was an RA at Tarkington Hall when a student in Wiley Hall shot his RA and himself back in the late 1990s. My little brother was a resident of Wiley Hall…so as info started to become clearer, all my Mom knew was an RA and resident of the Wiley/Tarkington complex had been shot. Scary stuff for a Mom (or Dad) who thought the worst for her sons.
When I heard about what was happening today in God's Country, I encouraged a few things- kids tell your parents that you're safe, and students and alums, stop bad-mouthing the administration for not doing enough.
Maybe the latter was an old guy yelling and young people don't get it…but it had been about an hour and one half since the news broke, and many thought the best thing to do was bitch about Purdue, Mitch Daniels, professors and administration.
Was I saying don't ever complain about how today was handled? Not at all. What I was inarticulately trying to communicate was that there were much more important issues at hand at that point…and there still are…than bellyaching.
A well-thought complaint about how Purdue handled this tragic event might be something that causes change to happen should this ever occur again.
For instance- maybe you think Purdue should have canceled classes for today once the university knew a student was killed in an academic building. No argument from me. BUT, I think simply not going to class today as you try to get your head around the day's events was probably more important than getting pissed at Purdue immediately.
Complaining to Mitch Daniels for the way he handled today might not have made much sense either…President Daniels was out of the country today, so it might have been difficult for him to handle this. But, due to the knee jerk reaction of many on Twitter, it seemed like he was making all of the decisions on campus and merely doing nothing about the situation.
What we absolutely know right now, despite poor information, despite slow reactions and under reactions by those of us near the situation, is that the family of the person who was killed needs our thoughts and prayers.
Whether or not you look at the Bible as a just a good book or The Good Book, you probably agree that there is a time for everything. Even in an age in which news and information travel as fast as light through fiber optic cable, time is still needed for prayer. It takes time for heeling and simply grasping understanding of what just happened in our back yard…on our campus…or in the building where you go to class a few times a week.
I'm glad all of you on campus that are reading this are safe; you're all in my prayers and thoughts.
Ever grateful. Ever true.