a carjacker or rapist or drug pusher to care that his possession or use
of a gun is unlawful is like expecting a terrorist to care that his car
bomb is taking up two parking spaces."
Wednesday, April 18,
mass killers meet armed resistance.
place at a university in Virginia. A student with a grudge, an
immigrant, pulled a gun and went on a shooting spree. It
wasn’t Virginia Tech at all. It was the Appalachian School of
Law in Grundy, not far away. You can easily drive from the one school
to the other, just take a trip down Route 460 through Tazewell.
It was January 16,
when Peter Odighizuwa came to campus. He had
been suspended due to failing grades. Odighizuwa was angry and waving a
gun calling on students to “come get me”.
The students, seeing the gun, ran. A shooting spree started almost
immediately. In seconds Odighizuwa had killed the school dean, a
professor and one student. Three other students were shot as well, one
in the chest, one in the stomach and one in the throat.
Many students heard
shots. Two who did were Mikael Gross and Tracy
Bridges. Mikael was outside the school having just returned to campus
from lunch when he heard the shots. Tracy was inside attending class.
Both immediately ran to their cars. Each had a handgun locked in the
Bridges pulled a
Magnum pistol and he later said he was prepared
to shoot to kill if necessary. He and Gross both approached Odighizuwa
at the same time from different directions. Both were pointing their
weapons at him. Bridges yelled for Odighizuwa to drop his weapon. When
the shooter realized they had the drop on him he threw his weapon down.
A third student, unarmed, Ted Besen, approached the killer and was
But Odighizuwa was now disarmed. The three students
restrain him and held him for the police. Odighizuwa is now in prison
for the murders he committed. His killing spree ended when he faced two
students with weapons. There would be no further victims that day,
thanks to armed resistance.
You wouldn’t know much about that though. Do you wonder why?
The media, though it widely reported the attack left out the fact that
Bridges and Gross were armed. Most simply reported that the gunman was
jumped and subdued by other students. That two of those students were
now armed didn’t get a mention.
James Eaves-Johnson wrote about this fact one week later
in The Daily
Iowan. He wrote: “A
Lexus-Nexis search revealed 88 stories on the topic, of which only two
mentioned that either Bridges or Gross was armed.” This 2002
article noted “This was a very public shooting with
a lot of media coverage.” But the media left out information
showing how two students with firearms ended the killing spree.
He also mentioned a second incident. And while I had read many articles
on this shooting for an article I wrote about school bullying not a
single one mentioned the role that a firearm played in stopping it.
Until today I didn’t know the full story.
Luke Woodham was a troubled teen. He felt no one really liked him. In
1997 he murdered his mother and put on a trench coat. He filled the
pockets with ammunition and took a handgun to the Pearl High School in
Pearl, Mississippi. In rapid succession killed two students and wounded
He had the incident planned out. He would start shooting students and
continue until he heard police sirens in the distance. That would allow
him time to get in his car and leave campus. From there he intended to
go to the nearby Pearl Junior High School and start shooting again. How
it would end was not clear. Perhaps he would kill himself or perhaps
the police would finally catch up with him and kill him. Either way a
lot more people were going to get shot and die.
What Woodham hadn’t planned for was the actions of Assistant Principal Joel
Myrick. Myrick heard the gun shots.
He couldn’t have a handgun in the school. But he did keep one
locked in his vehicle in the parking lot. He ran outside and retrieved
As Myrick headed back toward the school Woodham was in his vehicle
headed for his next intended target. Myrick aimed his gun at the
shooter. The teen crashed his car when he saw the gun. Myrick
approached the car and held a gun to the killer who surrendered
immediately. There would be no further victims that day, thanks to
So you didn’t know about that. Neither did I until today.
Eaves-Johnson wrote that there were “687 articles on
the school shooting in Pearl, Miss. Of those, only 19 mentioned
that” Myrick had used a gun to stop
Woodham “four-and-a-half minutes before police
Many people probably forgot about the shooting in Edinboro,
Pennsylvania. It was a school graduation dance that Andrew Wurst
entered to take out his anger on the school. First he shot teacher John
Gillette outside. He started shooting randomly inside the restaurant
where the 240 students had gathered.
It was restaurant owner James Strand, armed with a shot gun, who
captured the shooter and held him for police. There would be no further
victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.
It was February 12th of this year that a young man entered the Trolley
Square Shopping Mall, in Salt Lake City. The mall was a
self-declared “gun free zone” forbidding
patrons from carrying weapons. He wasn’t worried. In fact he
appreciated knowing that his victims couldn’t defend
He opened fire even before he got inside killing his first victims
immediately outside the front door. As he walked down the mall hallway
he fired in all directions. Several more people were shot inside a card
store immediately inside the mall. The shooter moved on to the Pottery
Barns Kids store.
What he didn’t know is that one patron of the mall, Kenneth
Hammond, had ignored the signs informing patrons they must be unarmed
to enter. He was a police officer but he was not on duty and he was not
a police officer for Salt Lake City. By all standards he was a civilian
that day and probably should have left his firearm in his vehicle.
It’s a good thing he didn’t. He was
sitting in the mall with his wife having dinner when he heard the
shots. He told her to hide and to call 911 emergency services. He went
to confront the gunman. The killer found himself under gun fire much
sooner than he anticipated. From this point on all his effort was to
protect himself from Hammond, he had no time to kill anyone else.
Hammond was able to pin down the shooter until police finally arrived
and one of them shot the man to death. There would be no further
victims that day, thanks to armed resistance.
In each of these cases a killer is stopped the moment he faces armed
resistance. It is clear that in three of these cases the shooter
intended to continue his killing spree. In the fourth case, Andrew
Wurst, it is not immediately apparent whether he intended to keep
shooting or not since he was apprehended by the restaurant owner
leaving the scene.
Three of these cases involved armed resistance by students, faculty or
civilians. In one case the armed resistance was from an off-duty police
officer in a city where he had no legal authority and where he was
carrying his weapon in violation of the mall’s gun free
What would have happened if these people waited for the police? In
three cases the shooters were apprehended before the police arrived
because of armed civilians. At Trolley Square the shooter was kept busy
by Hammond until the police arrived. In all four cases the local police
were the Johnny-come-latelys.
Consider the horrific events at Virginia Tech. Again an armed man
enters a “gun free zone”. He kills two
victims and walks away long before the police arrive. He spends two
hours on campus, doing what is unknown. He then enters another building
on campus and begins shooting. He never encounters a police officer
during this. And all the students and faculty present had apparently
complied with the “no gun” policy of the
university. So no one stopped him. NO ONE STOPPED HIM! And when he
finished his shooting spree 32 people were dead. It was the killer who
ended the spree. He took his own life and when the police arrived all
they dealt with were the dead.
There were many further victims that day. The shooter never met with