Before I begin about The Killer At Thurston High, I want to fast forward to the Columbine School Shootings. On April 20, 1999, two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher, while injuring 27 additional students before taking their own lives. This event became one of the worst school shooting in US history. Before Columbine, I had never heard of a school shooting, to me this was a new phenomenon. Little did I know there have been many before Columbine, and ofcourse, there have been many after. With its title as worst school shooting, Columbine also sparked massive debate over gun laws, violent video games and music, school bullying, school subcultures and pharmaceutical anti-depressants. However, admists all that, I never heard much about the motives, the parents, the history of the boys. Sure there was some speculation here and there, but I felt the media took to debates on gun control far more than what had influenced these boys to commit this crime. And since they had taken the one way train out no one could ask them why. And this is where I’d like to bring you back to a boy name Kip Kinkel, whom after killing both his parents went to Thurston High to commit his crime that left two students dead and 25 others wounded.
By all accounts, Kip seemed to be growing up in a normal American family. Born in Springfield, Oregon to William Kinkel and Faith Zuranski who by all accounts seemed to be smart, well rounded, loving parents. There was also Kristin, Kip’s older sister and a sister who seemed to be the child most parents would hope to have, a gifted student and good at almost everything she applied herself to. Then there was Kip, who seemed to always have problems with learning, so much that he had to repeat the 1st grade. When this was mentioned I couldn’t help but wonder how this must have destroyed a bit of him. Then in the fourth grade he was diagnosed with dyslexia and was placed in extensive special education classes.
With an early fascination to armed weapons he’s parents tried to teach him the responsible way of using firearms even though, they didn’t like it. Before long he had a whole arsenal of weapons. A part of me thinks, what were these parents thinking, but than I’m reminded that this is America and Americans love their guns, more than they love baby seals. And when you have a child who seems lost and withdrawn you try to pull him/her out by showing support in their interests. But, personally, if my child was having troubles adjusting, socially and academically, showing signs of depression and meeting with a counsellor, hanging with the wrong crowd and overall just not exuding the behaviour a happy child his age should be showing, I would never bought him/her a gun. Might as well handed him a match and told him to light the house on fire.
Tragically, that’s just what they did. With another disappointing car ride with his father after bringing a gun to school, Kip Kinkel went on to commit his crime.
What lessons can be learned from this school shooting and how it is so similar to the ones that followed?? Is it mental illness, is it bad teachers or bad parents or is it something more? You can’t help but wonder why he commited the crime and at times you can’t even help but feel sorry for him as you watch this documentary. The twist at the end is that unlike Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and many others that followed, Kip never got away. He still remains behind bars, sentenced to 111 years and 8 months without the possibility of parole.