School Climate & Safety

Nevada District Rocked by Shooting Waits on Answers

By Ross Brenneman — November 13, 2013 1 min read
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A steady trickle of details continues to emerge in the tragic story of the school shooting that rocked Washoe County, Nev., in October.

Twelve-year-old Jose Reyes shot and killed Sparks Middle School math teacher Michael Landsberry on Oct. 21, before taking his own life. Since the shooting, law enforcement and school officials have worked to determine the reason for Reyes’ actions, which also left two students wounded, and piece together how Reyes obtained the semiautomatic handgun he used in the shooting.

A lot of the attention so far has centered on Reyes’ father, also named Jose, who indicated his son was bullied. Washoe County Superintendent Pedro Martinez refuted that the district had any knowledge of such bullying, telling local television news affiliate KVTN on Monday that no official records for elementary or middle school indicated Reyes had been bullied. The Associated Press, meanwhile, reports that the elder Reyes had not locked his gun, and had been arrested in 2012 on charges he struck his son in retaliation for his son hitting him.

In one of the more tender moments in this timeline, Sparks Middle School received care packages from students at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colo., and Newtown, Conn. The former sent a banner with student signatures of support, and the latter sent prayer shawls.

It struck me today that this would be the first year in which no students presently enrolled within the Littleton education system were in school during the 1999 attack there that left 15 dead, including two gunmen. Yet it’s still clearly tied to the district’s identity—so much so that other school tragedies warrant a gesture that says someone else understands how awful the experience is. Newtown seems to be following suit, and, if Columbine is any kind of unhappy trendsetter, will continue to do so.

Tragedy might not define a school system, but it’s more like a scar than a sickness: fading with time, but never really gone.

Image: Students return to Sparks Middle School on Oct. 28, for the first time since a 12-year-old student gunned down a teacher and wounded two classmates before killing himself on Oct. 21. —Scott Sonner/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.