EDITORIAL: Campus community challenged by tragic shooting, related events

On Tuesday morning, Oct. 10, we saw a young man smirking as his mugshot was being taken while he was in the county jail and a Texas Tech police officer lay dead. 

A tragedy struck Tech’s campus on Monday night, Oct. 9, when Tech Police Officer Floyd East Jr. was killed in the line of duty. After the shooting occurred at the Tech Police Department headquarters, the alleged gunman, Hollis Alvin Daniels III, fled the area back to campus. An active shooter situation was declared and the campus went into lockdown.

And just like that, a normal Monday night turned in to a worst nightmare. 

In those first several minutes, before we had any information other than the fact that there was a man with a gun — a man who had just shot someone — running around campus, hearts were racing.

That is how stories about Columbine and about Kent State are told. First, something somewhere has gone terribly wrong. Then, someone busts through your door.

As one of The Daily Toreador editors sat on lockdown in the basement of a building on campus, she almost thought the original notification about the shooting was a joke. With the Las Vegas shooting happening so far away from here, it’s easy to separate ourselves from the idea that these things happen. 

So, after she realized how serious and real the threat was, she could not help but see the gunman busting through the door, shooting through the wall, lunging over bodies.

We are conditioned to expect this kind of devastation, now. We are told to expect it and trained to survive it. But, that does not stop our hearts from stopping and our stomachs from dropping when those warning words are read or spoken.

When your aggressor looks so much like you, it is hard to distinguish between friends and foes. It is hard to know who is afraid and who is to be feared. 

That is the scariest thing about all of this. Now, a jog after sunset on the trail near Urbanovsky Park or a dark staircase in a residence hall both seem full of risk. A crowded room or a wide open landscape seems like the location of future b-roll. It feels like our little West Texas world has been darkened by the threat of a shooting.

The strange thing about this is most of us did not expect to feel afraid after the shooting — and for the most part, we editors are not — but in those quiet moments when one of us walks to the newsroom alone at night or if we hear a couple of police cars race past our newsroom, our minds run straight to the most frightening, threatening scenario.

However, in the midst of the bad, we have seen glimpses of good. We’ve seen students step up to support and protect their classmates. Staff and faculty members have made it their mission to make students feel safe and comfortable on campus.

We have seen people from near and far rally to support Tech PD and East’s family. 

Every day, we are Red Raiders, and for that we’re grateful. That’s what we need to hold on to during this time of mourning and as we move forward.

Tech is forever changed with the loss of Officer East; there’s no denying that. But, as Red Raiders, we are closer than ever and will continue to support each other.

That’s the spirit of Tech and everyone associated with this university, and that will never fade away.

(1) comment


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