At least 12 dead and dozens injured, several seriously.
One gunman and one crowded theater.
The specter of copycats.
Santa Cruz County residents woke up Friday morning to live video coming from Aurora, Colo., where James Holmes, a young gunman reportedly wearing a gas mask and a bulletproof vest, opened fire during a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, a movie expected to gross $200 million this weekend.
The number of deaths and injuries wasn't confirmed at the time this story published. But no matter what the final numbers are, there is one definitive: It's a tragedy.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks of 2001, Americans have been on various levels of alert, but anyone with an ounce of cynicism has recognized that movie theaters, malls and school events—so-called soft targets because they are gathering locations with little security—are ripe for domestic terror or deranged madmen.
The Friday morning massacre at the Century 16 in Aurora took place 19 miles and 13 years from Columbine High, but it’s the kind of tragedy that can open up wounds in every region in America.
While the Central Coast has not experienced violence on the level of a massacre, loss of life from gang-motivated crimes, car crashes, domestic violence and natural disasters weighs heavy on people.
All such events—not just the local ones—remind us of just how vulnerable we are.
And they bring the specter of copycats who think they can do it just a little better—or bigger.
Do we keep the status quo and prove that we haven’t been beaten, or do we make changes because we want to see next year, want to see our kids get married and our grandkids grow up?
The incident Friday morning is likely to start a discussion—a very real, very serious discussion—about personal safety in public places.
Let's start it here.
Should metal detectors become as standard as popcorn machines at movie theaters? Should there be armed security, or will a thick dude in a yellow jacket be enough to stop someone carrying a gun who wants to get in with or without a ticket? Will there be no more dress-up at the theater, which apparently allowed the Aurora gunman to enter with a handgun, a rifle, a gas canister and a gas mask?
What do you think this morning in light of Aurora, the newest name in tragedy?