To date, these four areas represent the sites of some of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. These and others like them normally involved a common thread — it took one person with a loaded firearm to claim the lives of dozens of innocent bystanders.
Many times, those responsible for committing these atrocities took their own lives. Other times, they died during a shootout with police.
Unfortunately, this has become the accepted "norm" in today's society. We have too many individuals out there that for many reasons seem to believe they need to destroy the lives of others because of circumstances in their own lives that convinced these individuals that this was somehow an acceptable course of action.
Looking back over the decades, I was saddened and sickened as I read about these and other mass shootings in U.S. history. There was one back in 1927 that I somehow missed but at the time was the worst mass murder in this country before the Pulse Orlando nightclub shootings last June overshadowed it.
It was known as the Bath School disaster and included three separate bombings that happened in Bath Township, Mich., on May 18, 1927. Those bombings killed 38 elementary school children along with two teachers, four other adults while injuring 58 others.
Most of the victims were children in the between the ages of seven to 14.
The bomber, as strange as it may seem, was the school board's treasurer, Andrew Kehoe. He was enraged about a property tax levied to fund the construction of the school building. He blamed the additional taxes on leading to the foreclosure of his farm.
Those events apparently provoked Kehoe to plan his attacks. Over the span of several months, he secretly planted hundreds of pounds of explosives inside the school while working there as a janitor.
On the morning of May 18, he beat his wife to death before setting his farm buildings on fire. As firefighters arrived at the farm, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, instantly killing many schoolchildren.
As rescuers started gathering at the school, Kehoe drove up to the school, stopped and detonated a bomb inside his shrapnel-filled vehicle, killing himself and the school superintendent in addition to killing and injuring several others.
During rescue efforts searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the school's south wing. Kehoe apparently had intended to blow up and destroy the whole school.
Incidents like these recorded over the past century illustrate why police departments, sheriffs' offices and law enforcement agencies across the United States have stepped up efforts to deal with these senseless tragedies. They know that it's only a matter of minutes — sometimes seconds — that determines the outcome of these crimes, all of which are committed by individuals wanting to create as many casualties as possible.
As I've mentioned before, it's not the weapons that are to blame. It's the sick, twisted, demented minds of these individuals who no longer recognize the difference between good and evil or comprehend the difference between right and wrong. Whether they ever felt remorse or regret for their actions will never be known, although my gut tells me that the answer was always "no."
It's these reasons that have required law enforcement teams across the United States to significantly revamp the way they train their officers, deputies or troopers. We saw that happen quite clearly last Thursday during a simulated mass shooting exercise at the former Paul's Market building.
Local law enforcement joined forces with others from across the region, including our neighbors from Mountain Home Air Force Base, to test how well they could respond if something like Orlando were to ever happen here. As an outside observer, I was taken back at how fast our officers and deputies were able to not only arrive on scene but to access the situation, make the right call and run headfirst into the unknown.
Having walked through the former grocery store earlier that morning before the exercise unfolded, I took note at all of the doorways, darkened halls and crevices that would've made ideal ambush points for anyone willing to engage our officers. Complicating the confusion the officers faced were the dozens of people dripping with simulated blood and screaming for help as they played the roles of the dying and wounded.
Truth be told, I was a bit taken back at how much realism was packed into such a short amount of time. Our law enforcement veterans took their years of experience to help make the scenario not only highly realistic but extremely challenging.
The one thing I did notice was how fast the law enforcement team swept through the building, captured one suspect and pinned the other two in a corner from which there was no escape. I also have to credit the trauma teams that swept into the building shortly afterward and began the painful process of determining counting how many people were survivors and how many were victims.
Unfortunately, what our law enforcement and medical teams practiced last week has somehow become the new "norm" both in the United States and other nations around the world. It's not a matter of "if" another mass shooting will happen but a matter of "when" and how bad it'll get.
It's for this reason alone that I'm relieved that our emergency responders were able to test their skills under such intense conditions. They train this way because they have to.
— Brian S. Orban