A Tulsan Perspective on the St. Francis Campus Shooting

by Cole Yearwood

While my mother and my Mimi were in the kitchen cooking dinner, I sat in our El Paso living room seeing Columbine reported on the news. 

To my elementary school-aged brain, what I saw was difficult to comprehend. The idea of a school shooting was so foreign to my early life experiences on the border. 

The rage and violence were incomprehensible. 

I was confused. 

While in Tulsa, my mind instantly went back to El Paso after the notification that there had been a shooting in the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall. To my homesick heart, I felt devastated. Mass shootings were now becoming somewhat commonplace, just in other American places, not my places. 

The rage and violence were still incomprehensible. 

I was heartbroken. 

While on my couch in Midtown on June 1, I saw a post that there was an active shooter just a few miles down Yale at the St. Francis campus. The idea of a mass shooting was no longer hypothetical as a resident of Tulsa, America. 

The rage and violence are still incomprehensible, yet now appeared around the corner taking four innocent lives. 

I am numb. 

A near lifetime of these shootings and that’s where I’m at. 

Hearing of the El Paso Walmart shooting had me scrambling for information as locals started to pick up the pieces. I was desperate for perspectives from El Pasoans, both still local and those now gone from the Sun City. I couldn’t control it, but maybe I could personally process it. 

I scrolled through news of the St. Fancis shooting and kept scrolling for a distraction. Only hoping as few Tulsans as possible would be lost once the day was done. I can’t control it and I don’t know how to process it. 

Four people were murdered at a hospital campus where my friends have worked and my family had recieved care. A hospital campus my partner passes by routinely on her way to work.

These weren’t strangers somewhere else under the stars and stripes. They were fellow Green Country residents. I learned of their lives not from newscasters in video clips, but from the posts of those who I know who knew them as people instead of portraits from a developing story. People, not people like them, I could have actually shared a stoplight, elevator or grocery aisle with in Tulsa. People who no longer live their lives in Tulsa or anywhere. 

What it means for the country I’m unsure because I’m numb to it in my backyard. Is this the new normal?

Burying my head in the sand isn’t the answer. I don’t want to carry a gun everywhere I go. Nor do I think every citizen with a sidearm is the solution. 

I don’t know the answer. I’m worried our country is past the point of having the conversation to figure it out. 

You didn’t see me in pink that First Friday because I was in shock. I haven’t opened many links on what happened because I get temporary relief from thinking of it as resolved. 

I don’t know what I do or what we do. It isn’t resolved. And those families, coworkers and loved ones don’t get temporary relief from thinking it is. 

For now, the best thing I personally can think of and bring myself to do is donate to the St. Francis Strong Fund to support those who didn’t have the distance I had between the local tragedy.