But it wasn't just at 11. On Friday, April 3, 2009, Binghamton, New York, was on the major news networks almost all afternoon and most of the evening. It was the site of the lead story for the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening news broadcasts. Binghamton had hit the big time.
Sadly, it was not for a good thing. It wasn't because the Binghamton University men's basketball team had won its way to the NCAA Big Dance for the first time. No, like many cities, Binghamton made the newscast because of a tragedy. And perhaps saddest of all, it was a tragedy that seems to be ever more common: a mass killing.
On the morning of April 3, a man entered the American Civic Association, an organization that helps immigrants to the area get settled, find jobs, learn English, and become citizens. For whatever reason, he came armed. By the time the shooting was over, fourteen people were dead, including the shooter, who committed suicide. Four other individuals were fighting for their lives.
And, of course, when reporters interviewed the shooter's neighbors, they all described him as a nice guy, quiet; none could believe he was capable of such a heinous act. Now where have we heard that before?
Each time we hear of such an incident, residents always say they couldn't believe it could happen there. That's what we're saying tonight, and we'll probably continue to say it for weeks. By now, you'd think that the world would know that they can happen everywhere. No city, regardless of how large or small, how sleepy or metropolitan, is immune. You'd think that experience, being the greatest teacher, would have taught us that. Yet, the next time it happens, and one would be naive to think it will not happen again, the shooter will likely be described as quiet and unlikely to have done such a thing--especially in a place where everyone thought such a thing could never happen.
May peace be with those affected by the shootings.