A California teacher's brave conversation with a 16-year-old gunman who had opened fire on his classroom bullies allowed 28 other students to quickly escape what could have been a massacre.
Science teacher Ryan Heber calmly confronted the teenager after he shot and critically wounded a classmate, whom authorities say had bullied the boy for more than year at Taft Union High School.
"I don't want to shoot you," the teen gunman told Heber, who convinced the teen gunman to drop his weapon, a high power shotgun.
Responding to calls of shots fired, campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields arrived at the classroom and helped Heber talk the boy into giving up the weapon.
"This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape."
One student, who police say the shooter had targeted, was shot. He was airlifted to a hospital and remains in critical, but stable condition, Youngblood said. He is expected to undergo surgery today.
Two other students received minor injuries. One suffered hearing loss and another fell over a table while evacuating. Heber received a wound to his head from a stray pellet, police said.
One student shot, no deaths, and the boy with the gun lives to receive the help that he so desperately needs.
Now just imagine if instead of understanding and compassion, this young man had been met with a hail of gunfire from an armed teaching staff trained to respond to violence with an increased level of violence. Imagine how many dead bodies may have resulted from such a scenario.
EVERY circumstance is different, but in this one perhaps the worst possible choice would have been an armed response. Instead this young man received exactly what he needed, trained professionals who valued HIS life as much as the lives of their other students, and who placed themselves in harm's way to protect both.
By the way I heard on MSNBC that his school indeed HAD an officer on duty, but he was caught in a snowstorm and was not available to deal with this potentially deadly situation. Though the armed student had no way to know that, which should put to rest the argument that people only open fire in places where there are "Gun Free Zone" signs posted.