In 1997, I was in High School in Princeton, Kentucky. It was also at this time that the trend of School Shootings began in earnest. This first one was in Pearl, Mississippi. A young man by the name of Luke Woodham who stabbed his mother, stole some guns, took his dead mother's car and shot up his school specifically his former girlfriend and then others. He explained his actions thusly:
I am not insane, I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, push us and we will push back. ... All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, truly blame me for what I do? Yes, you will. ... It was not a cry for attention, it was not a cry for help. It was a scream in sheer agony saying that if you can't pry your eyes open, if I can't do it through pacifism, if I can't show you through the displaying of intelligence, then I will do it with a bullet.
Of course there was another overlooked element:
During his trial, Woodham claimed to have gotten ideas of committing the murders by being involved with a Satanic cult. Woodham admitted to being a Satanist, and claimed that his friend Grant Boyette invited Woodham to join a Satanic group known as "The Kroth." He claimed that Boyette told him that he had "potential to do something great." Woodham said that Boyette promised him that he could get his ex-girlfriend back through black magic.
Also, he just so happened to be in a black trench coat to "hide his gun" when he did this.
The next school shooting not long after that was much closer to Princeton at Heath High School in Paducah. The named party responsible was a student by the name of Michael Carneal. What Mr. Carneal did is best explained here:
On December 1, 1997 Carneal wrapped a shotgun and a rifle in a blanket and took them to school, passing them off as an art project he was working on. He also carried a loaded Ruger MK II .22-caliber pistol in his backpack. Carneal rode to school with his sister and arrived at approximately 7:45 a.m. When he arrived, he inserted earplugs and took the pistol out of his bag. He fired eight rounds in fast succession at a youth prayer group of students. Three girls later died and five other students were wounded.
After perpetrating this crime, Carneal said he did not understand why he did what he did and asked to be killed when he was apprehended. Of course, it is interesting to note that Mr. Carneal shot at a prayer group and not say, at the chess team. (There was no chess team assembled at the time of the shooting that I know of, but the point stands.) His justification was the following:
Carneal told reporters that he couldn't give a single explanation for his crimes, and that contributing factors included a mistaken belief that his parents didn't love him, taunting from classmates, and false claims he was gay. He also stated that he didn't know who he was aiming at until he read the names in the paper.
So, here we begin to see the narrative of bullying that was started by the fellow who was practicing Satanism before begin to take shape.
What I remember is that after the Heath shooting Princeton school went on lockdown. We had to have mesh book bags and our clothing could not be too baggy. Someone had the bright idea to do the same thing again after Columbine, although I remember at least one student smuggled in a "fake gun" to the high school to show that the proposed measures were not going to be sufficient. He was not, to my recollection, richly rewarded for pointing out this obvious security flaw but was suspended instead.
In about 1998, I decided I wanted a leather black trench coat. I decided I wanted one mostly because I liked the look of them. I do not remember feeling inspired to get the coat in connection with anything other than the aesthetics. It was well before the movie The Matrix came out, and also well before Columbine. The reason for this observation will become important momentarily. I do remember that I got the coat from Wilson's back when it still existed as a store in malls, and there was some issue with Equifax throwing some tantrum about the credit card used in connection with the location the coat was purchased from in Evansville, Indiana and the amount of the purchase. I also remember that previous to this point, some kids in Princeton had started a rumor that I was a "gay drug dealer" because I dressed nicely and delivered medicines for a local pharmacy as my "after school" job. I owned zero guns and had zero fascination with guns. I was not dating any girl at the point the rumor started, mostly because I did not know anyone well enough to date. I had not been in Princeton for long when that aspect began. I was not a Satanist although I did not either identify as Christian in the sense of being "Southern Christian". My beliefs were still being refined but I knew that the personage described as Jesus was not describing Christians as I knew them in the setting of the town in which I was living. Something did not make sense. I did realize, however, that the Bible contained wisdom.
One year later, Columbine happened--just before my graduation in fact. For that story, you will have to wait and go to Part 2.