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COLUMN: Gorgeous day turns with news

Monday was a gorgeous day here with cooler temperatures and just a hint of fall. In fact, the whole weekend was that way.

When I got to work at 6 a.m. Monday morning, I could feel a slight nip in the air indicating fall is on its way. It was a great start to the work week.

The news staff and I were about to wrap up the Monday edition when suddenly it felt like a bolt of lightning had struck right through me from the clear blue sky when word came across the police scanner of a report of an “active shooter at Delta State.”

Oh, please no, was my immediate thought. Not again; and especially not at my school.

None of us would ever want a school shooting to occur on any campus, but when something like that affects a school you attended, grew up on and is where you have plenty of family and friends, your heart sinks.

Once off deadline, I immediately called my Mom to see if she had heard from any of my relatives in Cleveland. She informed me they were all safe, although several had to barricade themselves in classrooms and offices when Delta State went on lock-down.  Rumors of hostages being taken, multiple fatalities and shooters ran rampant as the unknown created anguish.

No one seemed to know anything, except it was true that a shooter was on campus and lockdown was in effect. Once word came there was a shooting victim, anguish turned to disbelief.

This can’t be happening.

My mind was racing and I tried to concentrate on work, but kept finding myself checking The Associated Press wire and Facebook for any news or information. Still nothing was confirmed.

Then the shooting victim was identified and more details revealed the shooter had committed another murder on the Coast and was still on the loose. How can this be real?

Crime like this doesn’t happen in Cleveland, Mississippi. It happens on the national news — and happens all too frequently. But this proves violence like this can happen anywhere. We all live in “anywhere” and can be on the national news in an instant.

A lot was lost Monday along with the loss of life. A place I called home during my college year’s lost some of that small-town innocence.

My heart aches for the family of Professor Ethan Schmidt. We did not know one another, but I do know Jamie Rutledge who was barricaded in his office. And I do know Aaron McIntyre who was in the same building where the shooting took place. And I do know Aaron’s dad, Ricky, my first cousin, who was worried sick about his son.

I know all my relatives and friends from that area who were just as sick with worry as I was trying to find out information and filtering through the rumors.

I also know how strong the people of Mississippi are and how they have responded in the aftermath of this tragedy. But I also know the Delta State family and they will refuse to allow this senseless crime to define who they are.

As we say, “Respect the Statesman and Fear the Okra.”

Rob Sigler is the managing editor of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at rob.sigler@oxfordeagle.com.