There is debate and horror-fuelled outrage following the shooting at a Florida high school last Wednesday, which left 17 dead and several more injured. But there’s another, quieter question so many of us are asking: How could he do it?
Sitting down for dinner with the people we love; saving leftovers for lunch tomorrow; watching our family and friends across the table or the sporting field or over coffee on the weekends – we’re all wondering How.
None of us know how a 19-year-old former student could walk into his old school carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle with the intent to kill.
But one person does. And now, he’s telling his story.
“I was almost a school shooter,” Aaron Stark begins his open letter to the world, published by Denver’s 9 News.
“I didn’t carry out anything, I didn’t hurt anyone. But in 1996, I almost did the worst possible thing.”
Stark’s letter reveals a horrific adolescence. Yes, he was bullied – “for being fat, for being smart, for not playing sports” – but his trauma ran deeper than that.
“I had a very chaotic and violent childhood, moving from place to place, having the people I was closest to be the ones who hurt me most,” his letter reads.
“I was shy, and sensitive, and smelled bad because I either had dirty clothes on that had not been washed in weeks or because I was filthy from not having a shower also for weeks at a time.”
He began hiding weapons at the places he frequented. He always had a knife or stick or brass knuckles close. At the height of his depression, Stark wanted the whole world to explode. And he was ready to make it happen.