Letter: Tragedy hits our own backyard

To the Editor:

My cell phone rang shortly after 11 a.m. last Friday. It was a call from my daughter in Mississippi.

“Dad… did ya hear?”

“Hear what, Marianne?”

“About the stabbing at Johnny Law?“

“What! Let me call you back.”

I watched, in disbelief, the events unfolding in front of me, on a local news station broadcasting live from the scene. Helicopter overhead, remote news crews surrounding the site, scared, confused students and parents safely outside…. it has happened again. This time, in my backyard.

I recognized a number of faces on the screen during a press conference, many of whom I am on a first-name basis with. It really hit home. I know these people. I then thought about my own daughter. This could have been her. Yet, I just spoke with her. And I thought to myself, here she is, 1,200 miles away telling me about a killing, only three miles away from my home. It is so surreal. This is becoming too common place. It has to stop.

It’s a catch 22. The media pounces on these events immediately, vying with each other to get the most information they can from the authorities. We all crave to know what’s going on around us; yet, at the same time, I believe these horrific-images can entice an unstable individual to become a ‘copy-cat’… thereby, enabling him or her to seek attention and subsequently, revenge for some social injustice. That’s the problem.

Our minds quickly shift to ‘why’ and ‘how’ this could happen. Each story is different; yet, the underlying situation is the same: The offender’s strong desire to be accepted, and approved.

These horrendous acts hurt so many people, even the innocent family members of the assailant. Lives are changed the second the dreadful act is committed. Are there warning signs? How well do we know each other?

I was comforted to know my daughter received warnings about a threat to her community a few days after the Milford event, which I was made aware of by, yet again… the media. I called her to be sure she was safe from the impending tornados in her locale. She received the warnings and assured me she was safe. I was grateful for the media coverage on this event.

We must address the ‘real’ issue. We are advised by Homeland Security to: ‘See something, say something’ when we come upon something suspicious. We have to be aware of those around us. We are constantly bewildered by the inappropriate actions of many we thought we knew well.

Since it is so difficult to know what’s going on in others’ minds, even by professionals, we have to have a system in place for these disturbed persons. Something which is omni-present, continually reaching out to them to sit down and talk about whatever issues are troubling them. We must encourage them to take the steps, and make them want to go for the help they so need, to make their lives better, to take away their internal suffering.

Perhaps this is something our clergy should bring up. Clergy can remind its congregants they are there for them. Let these distraught individuals know they can speak with someone confidentially.

We need to let our troubled people know there is a place to go for help. It could be as simple as a poster with contact information, placed in every classroom.

I am so proud and moved by the conduct of our teenagers during this whole ordeal. They united on the beach with their formal wear of the prom they were to attend the night of the slaying: Maren’s gown with them, followed by a prayer service. The out pouring of support from Law’s sports-rival school, Foran, where they painted their rock the same as Law’s to commemorate Maren is astoundingly heart-warming. Even the boys lacrosse team from Branford came out to an evening vigil for Maren.

Everything our young men and women planned and carried out together was a resounding tribute to a beautiful, well-loved, accomplished student. It’s appeasing to know there is so much support in this caring coastal community of Milford.

Kevin Boyd