Why I don’t care about Uvalde’s shooter life and you shouldn’t either

Twelve hours after a gunman entered Ross Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 19 students and two adults, I learned he was “lonely” and “intimidated” for a stutter and a lisp. I learned that the 18-year-old mass murderer plays video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty. I learned that at one point the monster used a knife to cut his face. I learned that on his 18th birthday, he bought two assault rifles photos of which he took and posted them online with the caption “my weapons”.

I don’t care that he had a difficult upbringing. I don’t care how hard college was for him. I don’t care if he had a hard time making friends.

It’s not because I lack sympathy. It’s because all my sympathy is exhausted for the carnage he left behind. I care that 10 year old Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares had the whole world in front of her and that she would help anyone who needed it. I care about her cousin Annabelle Rodriguez, also 10, who was killed in the massacre with her.

And he, whose name I won’t mention in this article because he won’t earn the infamy of my story in death, can’t do that. Just because you’ve had a hard time doesn’t mean you’re inflicting pain and misery on the rest of the world.

“He was the nicest of the kids, the shyest of the kids. He just needed to come out of his shell,” his friend told the Washington Post.

You know who else was a nice guy?

Eight-year-old Uziyah Garcia, who her grandfather described as “the sweetest little boy i have ever known.” And fourth-grade student Xavier Lopez, 10, who partied at all his family’s barbecues and received his certificate of honor hours before he was killed.

I care about Eva Mireles, the teacher who died a heroine protecting her students. For 17 years, Mireles taught fourth grade out of pure love for her students. And I know this because my mother taught for 50 years and still struggles to pay her mortgage. There is no money in education. Teachers are paid in smiles, hugs and mugs with silly sayings. It’s a barter system that most of us will never understand and a love that many of us will never know. And I don’t need to know if she protected a child the day she died: she was a hero 17 years ago when she showed up in front of her class, grossly underpaid, and lured the Pay attention to those little faces.

I don’t care about monsters.

Monsters leave debris in their wake.

The monsters gorge themselves until all that’s left is sadness and pain.

Mourners mourn the 19 children and two adults who were killed at Robb Elementary.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The media must stop trying to make monsters out of men. Not everyone is salvageable. Sometimes what he looks like is exactly what he is. Sometimes evil wins.

I never need to know that the Buffalo the mass shooter had a toothache. I never need to see the The Sandy Hook Shooter Drawings or notebooks, or going back to the church shooter’s house in Charleston, South Carolina, so his dad can say, “I don’t know what happened, I just know the boy didn’t wasn’t raised that way.

Once one life impinges on another in the most violent way, finding out what that life was like before that moment doesn’t matter. I don’t believe monsters have human rights. They cannot be redeemed. There is no need to reflect on the life they have lived up to this point.

But for some reason, America wants to study them; he wants to know who they were before that day. Why? What difference does it make? Has it brought us closer to understanding what makes them hateful and insensitive? Did he succeed in curbing the violence? If the point isn’t to paint the monster in a more humanistic light, then why bother learning who they were before attacking and venting their pain on others?

In October 2017, Slate columnists argued against my beliefs. In a piece titled “We need to humanize shooters“, Elizabeth Adetiba and Jake Bittle argued that by not giving air to their stories, we are not learning what makes them who they are and therefore preventing acts like that. here in the future. They write:

But responding to these nefarious characterizations by saying label mass shooters as [Las Vegas shooter Stephen] Paddock as “evil” and avoiding any information about their motives or struggles sets the course in the wrong direction. The truth, just as difficult to accept, is that societal influences play as much of a role in perpetuating mass shootings as they do in small-scale local shootings. The scale of mass shootings makes the intentions behind them harder to understand, but these shooters are also products of a society that is notoriously apathetic toward more everyday acts of violence.

While I agree that societal influences definitely play a part in the discouragement and isolation that seem to be consistent in the profile of the mass shooter, I don’t know what knowing that after the shooter has murdered innocent victims helps us to understand. Everyone is discouraged and isolated at some point in their lives, but that doesn’t mean any of us are going to commit mass murder. We would need levels of precognition to determine who has the propensity for that level of violence. But we can stop lionizing shooters and rehashing their past with a sympathetic bent.

If we are to look at past shooters, it is best to take inspiration from this 2019 Los Angeles Times op-ed and use comprehensive review of researchers at every mass shooting since 1966 as a model. The authors found four common themes. The first was that the majority of shooters have experienced childhood trauma and, as a result, have mental health issues. The second is that in the weeks or months leading up to the shooting, almost all of them had experienced some kind of crisis that had brought them to their breaking point. The third is the most intrusive and telling: almost all have studied other shooters, and in the information age, many have become radicalized online. Finally, all shooters have found ways to carry out their plans, from finding the location to securing a weapon.

These findings tell us a lot more than knowing that the Uvalde shooter missed a lot of school and wasn’t on track to graduate.

Other than whether or not the shooter died after the shooting or if he lived and will be brought to justice, I don’t need to know anything else about them, and I don’t care. The best thing to come out of Uvalde’s shootout was to learn that the monster was dead. The families of those who lost loved ones that day will not have to be terrorized any further like those in the Buffalo supermarket shooting who will see the monster’s face every time he comes to court. You can’t take 19 of the most vulnerable among us and two adults who loved them like family and tell us after the tragedy, after the remains, after the devastation, how hard you’ve struggled. Because at that time, I don’t care.

And the media should also stop caring.


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