Childrearing

A New Wrinkle: Maryland School Shooter Did Not Want To Survive His Own Rampage

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school shootingMore details are coming out about the shooting at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County, Maryland yesterday. The first day of classes was interrupted when gunfire broke out in the school cafeteria. One student was critically injured, but the tragedy could have been far more expansive. From the sounds of Robert Wayne Gladden, Jr.‘s Facebook page, the school shooter did not want to survive the attack he made on his fellow students.

As the hours drag on since the school evacuated in panic, we’re learning that the rumors surrounding yesterday’s tragedy seem to be true. According to the shooter’s father, the 15-years-old who is being charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder and assault, was the victim of bullying. The dad gave no further explanation though and did not mention who bullied his son.

The original rumors about a cryptic Facebook message were also true. Robert posted on his Facebook page, “First day of school, last day of my life.” He posted it under the name, “Suicidal Smile.”  It seems that the troubled young boy was hoping to be taken out by police after going on his rampage. Instead, he was tackled almost immediately by teachers and a guidance counselor. The adults undoubtedly saved the lives of the other students in that cafeteria.

The Facebook post would lead people to believe that Robert was attempting to follow in the footsteps of the most famous high school shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine massacre. These teens also went into their school with no expectation of leaving. Thankfully, the bravery of those at Perry Hall prevented more tragedy.

Gladden lived with his mother after his parents divorce in 2010. When reporters went to the home, no one wanted to comment on the tragedy. (Understandably.) NBC News did note that there was a sign on the front door saying, “We don’t call 911,” with a picture of a revolver on it.

While this horrible incident is still new and the information is still slowly trickling out, it looks to be the story of a very disturbed young boy. Reports say that the 17-year-old student injured, who might have been special needs, was not the target of the shooter. He was simply the first hit.

The situation is tragic. And while the father’s remark that his son was bullied may very well be true, it sounds like this is a complex and sad case that won’t come with clear-cut answers.

Students at Perry Hall returned to school today with heightened security and counselors available. This troubled young man will be charged as an adult, but hopefully he will also receive psychiatric treatment. He is a 15-year-old kid. He committed a horrible act. But it seems like he wanted to lose his own life as well. It is a tragedy on every level.

As always, and as I’ve written too many times this summer, we at Mommyish send our thoughts and prayers to victim, the families and the entire Perry Hall community.

(Photo: Martin Haas/Shutterstock)