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Editorial: Valor, preparedness and questions in Roswell

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The tragic shooting at Roswell’s Berrendo Middle School is barely 48 hours old, and yet in this internet and social media-driven world, there are already clear acts of valor and preparedness that deserve recognition.

As well as questions that require answers.

Top of the list is teacher John Masterson, who despite having a shotgun pointed at him confronted Tuesday’s shooting suspect and convinced him to put his weapon down. Masterson represents the best in human nature, the person who keeps his head when all about him are understandably losing theirs, who prevents a bad situation from becoming worse. A close second is the security guard who ran to help an injured student.

And there’s the district and school administration, which got the faculty and student body “active shooter” training so they would know how to react in such a situation. As Roswell Superintendent Tom Burris says, “in the 10 seconds that transpired from the time of this thing starting until the teacher had control of the weapon, there was no cowardice. There was protection for our kids. Everyone acted and did their duties….”

It’s important in the wake of the shooting that everyone continue to do their duties – for the sake of shooting victims Kendal Sanders, 13, and Nathaniel Tavarez, as well as shooting suspect Mason Campbell, 12. Because as differing accounts emerge – of bullying or not, of a sawed-off shotgun, of a thought-out, planned attack – answers are what will help communities prevent this kind of violence.

Was Campbell, as students have said, routinely and systematically bullied? If so, how could a school allow it? Or, as State Police say, was this a planned attack but random when it came to the shooting victims?

Did the shooter use a shotgun brought from home? If so, why did a young boy have access to a weapon that allowed him to saw off the stock and shove it in a duffel bag to take to middle school?

Were some students told, as some have said, to avoid school Tuesday? If so, should administrators and law enforcement have been alerted? If so, could they have prevented the shooting?

Roswell Mayor Del Jurney says “crimes like this are occurring far too often across this nation.” He’s right. Littleton, Newtown, now Roswell have become part of the lexicon regarding school shootings.

And answers, preparedness and valor are what will prevent more.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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