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Stranger Than Fiction | Matt Kriese

Photo Credit: Bobby Jones

As I watched my Facebook feed on Sunday, I was beyond shocked to see the images come out of Las Vegas. An overwhelming sadness took hold of me as I began to reflect on occurrences like the one in Vegas which have impacted me with a frighteningly thin degree of separation.

For example, when I was only two years old, two young men brought weapons into their high school and opened fire at anything that moved. All in all, 13 people lost their lives at Columbine that day, and many more left the scene with varying degrees of injuries. A year later, I moved to Littleton, Colorado where I would attend a church less than a mile away from the school. Every Sunday I would sit next to the families of those lost for the entirety of my childhood and early ten years. When the time came, I attended Chatfield high school where the students of Columbine were transferred to after the events of that day.

A year before I entered Deer Creek Middle school, a man who claimed to hear voices at night telling him to kill people brought a bolt-action hunting riffle to my future school and managed to hit two students, killing neither. My future math teacher tackled, disarmed, and restrained him until authorities arrived.

During high school, I worked at the closest Cinemark theater to the infamous Aurora theater. A few years after that night, the managers at my theater showed me a safety video of what employee responsibilities were during a shooting, preparing us for the unthinkable. The weight of that moment is impossible to describe. The night that James Holmes killed 12 and injured dozens more, the vast majority of my friends were out somewhere in the city watching the opening screenings of The Dark Knight. I spent the rest of my night frantically calling everyone I could, making sure they were back home.

I cannot say I know what the people of Las Vegas feel right now. There are things that are beyond empathy. I just hope the tragedy that I have grown up with and like what occurred in Las Vegas do not become our generation’s legacy. Let us use these injustices as fuel to begin bringing this to an end. Now is the time.

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