Helpless. That seems to be a fairly common feeling from students here at Lawrence whose families live in the Washington, D.C. area.An unknown gunman has terrorized the nation’s capital since the evening of Oct. 2. At the time of this writing, the sniper had been linked to at least nine shooting deaths and two injuries in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia. Authorities have not confirmed any breaks in the case as of yet, but Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose has said that they “are indeed making progress.”
Lawrence University is home to several students whose families live in the Washington, D.C. area. Courtney J. Miller and Jacob Teichroew are two such students.
Miller, whose parents live in Reston, VA, said, “I feel helpless because I’m not with my family right now.”
Reston is only about 20 miles from Manassas, the site of the Oct. 9 shootings, in which the victim had just finished filling the gas tank of his car.
The killings have all taken place while people were going about their normal daily activities, such as pumping gas or mowing the lawn.
Miller’s mother was, in fact, at a gas station in Virginia only half an hour before one of the shooting deaths occurred on Oct. 11. Miller said that she is keeping a very close watch on the Internet for news from Washington, D.C., watching for the latest developments.
“It’s so surreal, but getting more real” as the days go by and the latest news is released, she said.
Teichroew, whose family lives in Silver Spring, MD, expressed similar sentiments about being in Wisconsin, hours away from his family. Silver Spring is only a few miles from the epicenter of the first day’s shooting spree, which left five dead in a span of about twenty-seven hours.
Teichroew’s family in Maryland includes his parents as well as a younger brother who is a high school student. Schools throughout the D.C. area have been in a state of lockdown, with many of the activities, including sporting events, canceled for fear of having large groups outside.
Teichroew also commented that while people like him feel helpless not being able to be with loved ones at home, the people of Washington, D.C. must also feel pretty helpless. “All they can do is zigzag across parking lots [in hopes that an erratic path would confuse the sniper],” Tichroew said. He added that the only alternative defense was staying inside all day.
“The fear comes from the feeling of knowing there’s nothing you can do,” Teichroew said.
Both Miller and Teichroew agreed that considering the conditions, the authorities are handling the situation as well as they possibly can. They have been issuing statements periodically, whenever new information has been confirmed. They are also issuing warnings to communities, telling citizens to keep moving while trying to go about their daily business.
And people are trying to do the best they can. After all, as Miller said, “You can’t ask people to stop living.