NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC reflects on Oregon shootings

Last week, another school became a headline when a 26-year-old armed man opened fire on his fellow students and teachers, killing nine people and wounding nine others. The killer is also dead, although details are still emerging as to the exact sequence of events that lead to his death.

Thursday’s shooting incident at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg is the 45th school shooting this year and the 142nd such incident since the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

The issue of gun violence is at the center of a heated controversy between those who believe that upholding the Second Amendment at all costs keeps us safer, and those who believe that better laws regarding the accessibility of guns keeps us safer.

President Obama was visibly upset as he again addressed a community, and a country, shaken by the deaths of too many young people. He called upon his fellow Americans to “. . .think about how they can get our government to change these laws and to save lives, and to let young people grow up. . . This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones.” He added: “This is not something I can do myself.”

Jordan Moscone, 24, is a Business and Political Science major from Merrimac. He agreed with many of the things that Obama said.

“He said, ‘these people are sick.’ I think it is a sickness. The problem is, we spend too much time trying to prevent the sickness when we should be trying to cure it. . . we need to understand these people in order to prevent it in the future.”

Moscone further commented about the pressure that he feels as a college student. “I constantly feel pressure to succeed,” he said, “It can be overwhelming and scary at times. Maybe these people just can’t handle the pressure. The media puts it up there like, ‘look at what happened,’ but they don’t talk about, ‘Look at this kid. Look at his past. Look at his face. This kid was a child once. He smiled at one point. He laughed, he grew. But at one point he got so scared to live that he decided to die.”

In response to rumors that Thursday’s killer talked about his plans on social media, 18-year-old Computer Science major Juan Reyes of Methuen said that it can be hard to tell when someone is being serious and that he tries to avoid anyone who could get him into any trouble. ““I’ve seen people say stupid things. . . something that you meant as a joke can go really far. . . you never really know.”

Umpqua Community College is located 180 miles south of Portland in Roseburg. It’s described as a close-knit community where everyone has a friend or relative who attends classes at the college, but this rural community is no stranger to school shootings.

In 2006, a freshman at the town’s only high school shot his classmate in the back four times in the school courtyard. This prompted schools in the area — including Umpqua Community College  — to make plans for how to prevent and handle these types of active shooter situations in the future, according to The Oregonian.

Police arrived on the scene at about 10:45 a.m. on Thursday and the school was immediately put on lockdown. Students and faculty were bused to local fairgrounds after being searched by police for firearms, since Oregon law states that anyone who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon must be allowed to do so, even on the campus of a community college or public university.

Oregon universities tried to institute a ban, but were denied by the courts. Massachusetts has far stricter gun laws than Oregon and no firearms are allowed on the NECC school campus by students or faculty.

NECC Director of Public Safety and Transportation Gene Hatem declined to comment, but David Gingerella, Vice President of Administration and Finance,  said in an email, “that while no organization  can always prevent a tragedy like what happened in Oregon, under President Glenn’s leadership, emergency preparedness is a priority at Northern Essex.”

Devin Baker is a 20-year-old Liberal Arts major from Newburyport and she is not entirely confident of that.

“I thought a lot about the security and how we would not be prepared. There was an incident last year and the whole school was evacuated. . . you can’t really wrap your head around it.”

Thomas Matatall, 21, a Journalism/Communication major from Danville, N.H., had a different assessment.

“I think it makes us safer (having the police train on campus). . . Seeing police people on campus, I feel pretty confident about the security. I haven’t seen any issues, so I feel they must be doing something right.”

Nick LeBoeuf of Salem, N.H. also feels confident about the security here. The 18-year-old Business Transfer major said “I would put it in the same category as terrorism and plane crashes: something that a lot of people are terrified of, but the percentages are really low.”

The shooting at Umpqua comes just one day after a high school student in South Dakota shot his school principal, wounding him slightly, before two unarmed staff members were able to subdue him and restrain him until authorities arrived.

An emergency preparedness plan appears on the NECC website and states, in part, that in the event of an active shooter you should seek cover or safety and call 911 right away.

Further, it is recommended that if the incident is in your location, you should hide, block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors. If possible, turn off the lights and ringers on mobile devices.

You should take action “only as a last resort and only when your life or the lives of others are in imminent danger.”

The plan also addresses what to do when law enforcement arrives, which includes raising your hands and keeping them visible at all times. Try to remain calm and proceed in the direction from which officers are entering.

The full emergency plan can be viewed at