A tragic event occurred in our community this morning/late last evening which necessitated a brief least restrictive lockdown-meaning all exterior doors were confirmed to be locked and the front door was closely monitored. After talking with State Police the suspect was not believed to pose a threat to students which is why this level of lockdown was selected.
The suspect HAS BEEN APPREHENDED so the least restrictive lockdown has been lifted.
Fair enough, the guy doesn't pose a threat and is in custody. Still, the thought of my kids being associated with a 'lockdown' is unsettling to me. My wife and I started bouncing scenarios off each other. My first guess was that the school district had been notified of domestic violence that pertained to some of it's students and had reacted accordingly. That was when the second email arrived.
We are deeply saddened by a tragic event today involving adults in our community. As a district, student and staff safety is our primary concern. The incident did not occur on school property. However, after conferring with State Police, a brief 'least restrictive lockdown' was put in place in all our schools as a precautionary measure. The suspect is in custody and counselors are available for our students and staff if needed.
Now it's clear to me that someone is dead and I really want to know what is going on with my children. I called the local police department and told the officer of the e-mails. Did she know of anything going on? She replied that she was unaware of school lockdowns, but there had been a double homicide in the area. OK, thank you officer. To use a common Twitter remark I will say #facepalm to the officer's response.
I live in a rural area, so the 'double homicide, Bucks County' web search took me right to breaking stories and pictures of an apartment building that I was quite familiar with. In fact, my wife and daughter had been across the road buying flowers the night before. The stories indicated that the perp was in custody yet no person's name had been released as of 12 PM.
This information gets my wheels turning and I start envisioning some granola burping psychologist informing my children about a heinous murder involving a family from the school district. Would they be afraid? Would they think their mom and I were the victims or that I was the perp? I needed to get to my babies and assure them that all was well in their little corner of the world.
My wife convinced me that there was no need to pull our kids from class. If the school was going to inform them, it would have already happened and we should just let them assimilate the experience into their childhood. It really annoys me sometimes when she's the calm voice of reason, but in this case she nailed it.
To keep myself busy, I went to pick up the remaining bouquets for my daughter's last 2 performances of Beauty And The Beast at her middle school. My baby girl was starring as a fork and the thought of her bearing witness to a grisly murder scene prior to going on stage bothered me immensely.
By the time I got home from the flower shop my kids had arrived and were going about their usual business. We sat them down and asked them if they had heard anything about a lockdown. They indicated there had been police cars at their school and word had spread about a 7th grader getting busted for drugs.
We explained to them that two parents whose children were in high school had ended their marriage and the woman had moved into an apartment with another man. The father had killed her boyfriend, broke into the mother's apartment and stabbed her to death in front of their daughter. I then reassured my children that the murderer was in jail for the rest of his life. I felt compelled to underscore the fact that there was no scenario in which I would ever harm them and if they had any questions or fears about what I had just told them, we would be there to listen any time, night or day.
Now it's 4PM and local news is about to start the nightly 2.5 hour marathon of 'If it bleeds it leads' news coverage. I never thought my children's school would be the opening shot to the Philadelphia news cycle and I could go a long time before it happens again. My blood turned cold as the reporter gleefully recanted a tale of love, betrayal and violence that ended in front This Middle School. Back to you, Rock.
As I write this, the story has become clearer in some ways, yet remained murky in others. According to this morning's newspaper, two couples had met through their church approximately 2-3 years ago. After some time, the husband of one couple became romantically involved with the wife of the other couple. They moved into local apartments just before Christmas, 2011 and kept their whereabouts hidden from the man who would murder them 2 short months later.
Now this guy is a real piece of work. According to the newspaper, in 2004 his wife indicated that she was no longer interested in being married to him. His response was to head butt, strike, and bite her cheek and tear her nightgown in front of their 3 children. He plead guilty to simple assault. This appears to have been a regular pattern of behavior because he plead guilty to similar charges on a number of occasions.
Shortly after 5AM Friday, January 27th a man walks out of his apartment to start his vehicle for work when he is bludgeoned to death with an aluminum baseball bat. The attacker drags the man's body behind a nearby bush and enters the basement apartment where his estranged wife and daughter live. He stabs his wife repeatedly in the neck and chest. The murderer then informs his daughter that he had killed her mother's boyfriend as he leaves the scene.
The paper describes a brief manhunt resulting in an arrest at 9:50AM near my kid's school. By my math, that means a man who had just murdered two people in front of his child was in very close proximity to my children for 4.5 hours.
This guy had nothing to lose. His life as a free man was over. There were 2 schools containing 1,110 children, adjacent to where he was picked up by police. By the grace of God, this particular homicidal maniac opted to not follow current trends and go out in spectacular fashion at the expense of many innocent lives. Should he have chosen the middle school, the 6th grade hallway is mere steps from the entrance doors. My son and daughter would have been there enjoying the life of happy, compassionate, friendly pre-teen children. That could have all changed when a blood spattered man walked through their door.
I needn't go any further describing visions that now haunt me. Friday's events represent a cursory glance at every parent's worst nightmare. This precise scenario has made my heart sink on a daily basis as I entrust my babies to the public school system. Those who know me can imagine how I would react to a person hurting my babies. Suffice it to say that Jacques de Molay got off easy in comparison and leave it at that.
I thank God for my children's safety and pray for the young ones who lost their parents on a terrible morning. May their remaining lives reveal a better condition away from the savage that they once knew as Dad.