Thursday, October 11, 2007
Flirting with disaster
Mercifully none of the victims at SuccessTech died, except of course the shooter. But Cleveland has been flirting with disaster all week.

Buried inside today's Cleveland Plain Dealer, a list of school gun incidents over the pst seven days: a mother arrested with a .22 after she caame to school to confront some students who jumped her son; special education student caught with a duffel bag stuffed with a semi-automatic rifle and 40 lbs of ammo. It goes on.

Where did Asa Coon get his guns? And what drove him to use them? We're asking those questions today.

-- By Steve Turnham, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 11:13 AM ET
  31 Comments
It seems that this is an epidemic that is going on all over the country not just there in Cleveland.

It seems to me that these kids don't have the right supervision and aren't shown enough attention at home. So they have a bad outlook on life anyway and when picked on or what ever turn to violence because they weren't shown anything else or how to cope.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 11:36 AM ET
I think the issue of GUN CONTROL should be noted. I am not a big “Gun Control” advocate, but what is happening? Are the guns being stolen from law-abiding citizens?

I attended school in the eighties, and I remember there has always been teasing and piers picking on others. The difference between then and now is that there seem to be more guns out there! These kids are having access to guns all too frequently!
Posted By beachlzrd : 11:38 AM ET
Again there are shooting in schools. When are the schools going to have metal detectors? My daughter was in Elementary school last year and commented she didn't want to go to school because of the high school shootings, yes we had one too, thank god no one got hurt. My daughter wants to be home schooled because of this. Also in our school district they teach moral values, and that bullying is not tolerated. Alot of schools do not teach these valuable lessons, I believe if they are taught these values all over the world maybe the world would be a better place. Also, where did the guns come from? I believe the guns should have to be locked up, or your not allowed to have one. If a kid has been in trouble in the past maybe parents should help the kids out. There are places to get them help psychiatric help, counseling, and a youth advocate. I really feel sorry for all the kids growing up in this world, you're not safe anywhere anymore.
Posted By Hollie C., Northampton PA : 11:59 AM ET
360:

I want to commend you all on a good show last night to discuss this topic of school violence. I hope you all will continue the topic for some time to come.

I thought the Professor was a great guest adding lots of information to the program.

I am very sorry to admit that when Anderson did the interview in jail I was not shocked by anything the young man said.

I honestly believe with all my heart and mind, one of the best solutions is for adults to mentor young people at school through school-based, faith-based and sports-based partnerships in the community.

I have always told my mentees that I would answer each and every question they asked. Over the years, I have had some really challenging ones. Together we have found solutions to some of their issues.

I would encourage every person to find a young person to mentor. The rewards are wonderful and your life will be filled with the gift of a young person.

We can not turn our backs on these kids any more. This is not a isolated neighborhood issue. This is a societal issue.

These young people need us more than ever! Please consider mentoring a young person today!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 12:28 PM ET
Before people get all riled up about the 15 year old that got pepper-sprayed in Florida, bear in mind that this kid in Ohio was just 14. Children are dangerous. Let me repeat this statement as a person with experience in juvenile crime in a large urban city. Children are dangerous. They do not have a concept of injury or death. They do not realize that there are consequences to actions. They do not have control over their emotions in any important way. I work with gangs now and feel much safer. When a gangbanger looks at you and says “I’m crazy and I’m going to kill you if I get the chance,” that’s pretty much straight, you are on the same page. When I child looks at you and says “I’m sad,” that’s very, very scary because you have no idea if they are going to cry, scream, try to kill you, try to kill others, try to kill themselves. It’s pretty much all up for grabs. I’ll happily work Hollenbeck (CNN Special: Homicide in Hollenbeck was a fair representation) before I’ll work another high school.

Grl_Cop
Posted By Anonymous : 12:34 PM ET
Getting a gun today is as easy as getting drugs.......It's really not that difficult even if you are 14 years old.
Posted By Amber, Ft. Wayne, IN : 1:01 PM ET
As I watch the news reports and read articles regarding this latest school tragedy, one question comes to my mind; Where are the fathers of these children? We see picutres of and read about the mothers of these kids, but rarely - or never are the fathers mentioned.

I am a mother of boys. There is one thing that I cannot teach my boys, and that is how to be a man.

Anonymous - Tyler, Tx
Posted By Anonymous : 1:09 PM ET
As I watch the news reports and read articles about this latest school tragedy, one question comes to mind; Where are the fathers of these children? So many times we see pictures of or read about the mothers of these kids, but rarely or never is a father mentioned as being in the home.

I am a mother of boys. The one thing that I cannot teach them is how to be a man.
Posted By Susan, Tyler Tx : 1:13 PM ET
How come Cleveland does not have metal detectors and security guards in all of its high schools ? It sure seems like it needs them.

Barbara, Culver City, CA
Posted By Barbara : 1:18 PM ET
Steve,

What a horrific experience for those poor kids and teachers. What are we coming to as a nation when this type of stuff happens over and over again? Maybe we need to dust off "Bowling for Columbine." Michael Moore (whether you love him or hate him) asks some provocative questions regarding Americans and guns. I hope some Canadians post because as I recall Canadians have lots of guns, but the difference is they don't use them on other people the way we do. If my memory is correct, we have lots to learn from our neighbors and friends to the North.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton Ca : 1:28 PM ET
Why does anyone become violent?
I think that's the question that needs an answer. A gun, knife, poison, or any other weapon, doesn't just leap into the hands of a violent person. They first have to be so angry, so powerless in their own lives that they seek a weapon to lend force to that state of mind. In my opinion, a gun is only a symptom of it all, not the reason or excuse for these school incidents.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 1:50 PM ET
I am afraid that this is a problem all over the country. Parents with firearms in the house need to follow basic rules. Lock up their guns. Keeping a simple lock on a gun, which most guns come with these days, would solve a lot of problems. It's commom sense.
Posted By Jess, Paris, KY : 2:28 PM ET
I hated to hear that another school
shooting had taken place. More emoitianl scars that the kids will
have to deal with, one life lost that a family will have to live with. We need tougher gun control
laws, maybe if this happens a dozen more times our communities
and their leaders will take action.
Just go to any state and visit any
flea market and you will be amazed
at how easy it is to purchase a gun.
Posted By Barbara-Dalton Ga : 2:36 PM ET
With the increasing amount of violence and shootings in the states, especially in schools, maybe its time to think of the aftermath, that is the mental scar it leaves on the victims as well as the students and teachers.
School principals are not always reachable for help, therefore its best to have a psychologist available in schools for those that are in need of counseling.
Who knows to where he got the guns from...for all we know he’s been pushed too far to do it. Maybe it’s the cause of the “ultimate low self-esteem” or “cry for help” and attention that drove him to use the guns.
Posted By Elsabeth, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 3:55 PM ET
With the increasing amount of violence and shootings in the states, especially in schools, maybe its time to think of the aftermath, that is the mental scar it leaves on the victims as well as the students and teachers.
School principals are not always reachable for help, therefore its best to have a psychologist available in schools for those that are in need of counseling.
Who knows to where he got the guns from...for all we know he’s been pushed too far to do it. Maybe it’s the cause of the “ultimate low self-esteem” or “cry for help” and attention that drove him to use the guns.
Posted By Elsabeth, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 3:55 PM ET
Why did the school's principal, Johneita Durant,not have the time to discuss the students concerns. If any Principal on any schools payroll can not find the time for discussing student concerns then they need to be Fired. No more excuses for not doing the job they were hired to do.
Posted By Bernie : 4:00 PM ET
Getting an answer on where and how he got the guns is probably going to be easy to find out. But they why - why have any of the school shootings happen, why do people get road rage and shoot another driver, why did that mom tote a gun to school to go after kids picking on her child? Have we forgotten how to act - are we just a bunch of angry Americans anymore?

I think in our hurry up gotta get somewhere world we have neglected the sitting back and just talking with our kids and our spouses and family. The children especially need someone that can connect with them so they know they have someone to talk with and trust and someone to teach them how to cope with all the unfair things that life sends there way in their teen years and beyond. For the adults with guns and the rage to use it - perhaps a course in anger management might be a good start.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 4:19 PM ET
I am from Southern California, and the years i spent in middle and high school we had several bomb and gun threats. Although none were actual threats by indivisuals with readily available weapons and plans. From what I know of the situation in Cleveland, its does seem like a place full of social and economic despairs. Issues such as these, but no in every instance, can drive students or parents to use weapons on one another. The problems facing Cleveland are not only confined to that city, it is just a fraction of the bigger picture we face involving 2nd amendment rights, safety in our schools and pressing social and economic issues emerging in American cities.
Posted By Anonymous : 4:33 PM ET
I watched your coverage on this story. I am a school administrator. You ask the psychologist "Why didn't the school identify or see the warning signs of the shooter?" This question shows the lack of understanding most people have. The law requires a free public education for all children. The school must prove that a child should not be in a school or poses a danger. These must be based on facts not warning signs or hunches. It takes a long time to remove a student, especially if the parent knows the law. Judges and law makers continue to make laws that protect students rights and make keeping schools safe hard. Laws that require students to be placed in the least restrictive environment lead the way to place emotionally disturbed students in the general school population. These laws have helped many students but it also protects students who may cause a threat. Until a student proves himself violent, there is not much a school can do.
Posted By Anonymous : 6:00 PM ET
I watched your coverage on this story. I am a school administrator. You ask the psychologist "Why didn't the school identify or see the warning signs of the shooter?" This question shows the lack of understanding most people have. The law requires a free public education for all children. The school must prove that a child should not be in a school or poses a danger. These must be based on facts not warning signs or hunches. It takes a long time to remove a student, especially if the parent knows the law. Judges and law makers continue to make laws that protect students rights and make keeping schools safe hard. Laws that require students to be placed in the least restrictive environment lead the way to place emotionally disturbed students in the general school population. These laws have helped many students but it also protects students who may cause a threat. Until a student proves himself violent, there is not much a school can do.
Posted By Anonymous : 6:00 PM ET
Steve/AC360:
America in the 21st century has become the Wild West again.

America has become a place where buying a gun is like purchasing a household appliance, nooses are being hung from trees, school shoot-outs are as common as bank robberies, and Americans are in love with our cars like cowboys used to be in love their horses.

We are going backwards as a civilized nation.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, Indiana : 6:33 PM ET
Not to sound flip, but if I had those answers I'd be on Oprah and have a multi-million dollar book deal. Since my unhired literary agent and Oprah's people haven't called, I'll try to answer this anyway. All self-destruction, all other-destruction have at their base a lack of love for the person being destroyed. Sometimes mental illness causes it (and sometimes that is untreatable). Sometimes societal ills cause it (and those things many times aren't treatable unless society changes). We need to work to treat what we can and prevent as much damage from occurring when we can't. And we need to learn from the losses to better look for the signs the next time to try and help someone before tragedy happens. We also need to realize that sometimes no matter what we do, the outcomes would still be the same. We can only save ourselves ultimately. People have to want to get better and end their pain. If they don't, we can work to lessen the aftermath. That's about all. Sorry. There just isn't a magic wand lurking about to take care of this one. If I find it later on, I'll be sure to hire that agent.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 8:40 PM ET
Hi Steve,
I have news for you. Guns and drugs are everywhere for kids to get. A kid can get them in ANY neighborhood in the U.S. This is a problem which is out of hand and if anyone thinks it is not then they are completely out of touch.
It is the responsibility of the parents to keep up with their children, guide them, know where they are, provide opportunities and activities which are wholesome and most of all LOVE them.
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 9:03 PM ET
It truly is terribly sad that a young man would feel such a loss of hope or direction in life that his only option would be to shoot his school up yet in todays age im not shocked or the least bit dismayed for it is a sign of the times we live in.

When in your interview Anderson with the rapper who would move away in silence from the would be serial killer in his hood next door, at first it's funny the way he says it but then reality sets in a tragic sense of hopelessness for those who would because of a lack of means not be afforded the same oppurtunity.

Asa' guns were most likely from his brothers stash, who seemed to proceed him into nothingness of life just pished away with a mother leading a broken home and we are surprised, shocked, can't understand, Right! Until he gets some guns and start shooting then people want to understand and now a teen no longer has his life.

Asa's parents let him down, the authorities in his life did none better, and worst of all he let himself die for seeking a permenant solution to a temporary nightmare that his life had become at such a young age only never know living long enough to see it get better.

Miranda
Posted By Anonymous : 9:23 PM ET
AC360:

Alot of our children don't have the guidance and love and support we had when I was growing up. Just the other day now that I think about it! It's getting to the point where I won't watch the news these days as most of the first half hour is so violent. Why is it ok to watch violent movies, dvd's, games, etc. but the country has a problem with the human body. Maybe we should learn something from Europe. Too much conservatism is definitely not the way to go. Let's be a little more liberal. Thanks for the report though. What would we do without AC360?

Sophia in Canada
Posted By Sophia in Canada : 9:55 PM ET
It is scary to see how angry our students have become. Some of them who are bullied by others in school do not know any other way to make it stop short of violence. We need to teach our kids to tolerate each other. Schools can only do so much alone, we need parents and the community to help to teach tolerance.
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 9:56 PM ET
Asa Coon what drove him into shooting at the school is because he's mentally unstable. He had been warning other students that he was going to do something for a while now. It was reported to the principle, but the principle never found the time to deal with him.

Now days I'm scared for the students having to attend high school. Their's got to be an answer on how to stop the violence in schools. This should be one of our number one corcerns today a school is a place for a student to go to get an education. Not a place that a student is afraid to attend.

Jennifer - Anderson, South Carolina.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 10:04 PM ET
Hi Steve,

It bothers me that we seem to hear about school shootings every couple of weeks or so. As a society, we need to reach out and have a dialogue with our young people. This is definitely a cry for help from them.

Thanks,
Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 10:05 PM ET
Every time I hear about another school shooting it breaks my heart. It's sad that students can't even feel safe at school.

I think one of the problems is gun control. It seems like it is so easy to get guns anymore. Another problem I think is when students show signs that could lead to violence and they aren't always taken seriously, or they are over looked. I also think not having a good home life can lead to violence too.

Something needs to be done about the violence at schools. Students should feel safe at school, but it's hard after all these incidents.
Posted By Kaitlin, Bethlehem, PA : 11:03 PM ET
I am Canadian and I have a license to acquire and possess restricted and non-restricted firearms. I do not own any restricted firearms but if I wanted to buy a hand gun, I would have to go through a rigorous process to do so. I certainly can't just go buy one as easily as a hotdog, not legally.
The firearms in my possession are all hunting rifles. It is a commonly seen bumper sticker up here in Canada- " Children that hunt and fish don't mug little old ladies". It's a simplistic saying but what it means is that children who's parents and grandparents teach them to hunt, spend time with them in the outdoors and put their kids in firearms safety courses and the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education Program (which are both required to hunt) have much less chance of their kids being involved in crime of any kind, especially gun related crimes.
These children have been taught respect for self sufficiency, as opposed to getting their sustenance from the mall super market, they have been taught respect for their elders and the old ways, and they have been taught respect for nature and wildlife. And anyone that has gone through the firearms training course has been taught to have a great deal of respect for firearms and the power they represent.

Janet, Nelson, BC Canada
Posted By Anonymous : 1:04 AM ET
360
Just wondering, we call many countries in the middle east such as syrian and iran... dictatorship countries and have no human rights and what so. But how comes such crimes dont happen there? why is it that you never hear any student in such countries commiting such crime? are they actually doing something RIGHT that we have not figured out yet? What do you think about making our punishments tougher than what we have, because it seems to me that criminals go in jail all skinny and come out well built and buffed up...
whats going on here????
Posted By LulaK : 4:28 AM ET
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