In 1962, environmentalist Rachel Carson warned of a systemic problem: DDT and other pesticides were killing birds and insects. Her book, The Silent Spring, met with fierce opposition from the chemical companies, but it resulted in a reversal of national pesticide policy and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In his book Virginia Tech, Make Sure it Doesn’t Get Out, which documents the causes and cover-ups of the April 16, 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, David Cariens warns of another systemic problem: a failure of our national health system.
Now, in his latest warning, he brings the issue closer to home in A Question of Accountability: The Murder of Angela Dales, 2nd Edition, his granddaughter’s mother. Angela was callously gunned down on January 16, 2002, while sitting in the student lounge at Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, a tiny town in the far Southwestern corner of Virginia.
In the first chapter he describes Angela in such loving detail that I felt a terrible sadness and personal loss at her murder. In the second chapter David describes the documented facts about her killer, Peter Odighizuwa, a native of Nigeria, to the extent that one cannot doubt his potential danger. The record shows repeated complaints and warnings about his violent, psychotic nature, to the extent that he had been barred from entering some professors’ offices and classrooms for fear of their lives. His wife was granted a protective order against him. In spite of all this, he was allowed to buy guns.
In the third chapter he describes how Peter entered the law school and deliberately shot and killed Professor Anthony Sutin and Professor Thomas Blackwell. Peter then went downstairs to the student lounge, passed several students, and fired three bullets into Angela at point blank range. Peter shot three other young women before being subdued by other students.
Angela had not been hit in any vital organs, but was bleeding profusely and needed immediate attention and blood. But there was no school crisis plan, no one knew what to do. The hospital was only 5 minutes away, but Angela was left bleeding on the floor for 35 minutes before she reached the hospital, where she died from loss of blood.
The rest of the book describes the frustrations and anger of David and the other parents from being stonewalled at every turn. When they tried to find answers and accountability they encountered an “Old Boy” network of vested interests where the rights of individuals went unheeded and were even ridiculed. The Appalachian School of Law had no security, even though every other Virginia school did–no cameras, no officer on site, no plans. Not even simply “in case of an emergency, pull the fire alarm!” At every turn, the families were denied access to information. They could find few Virginia lawyers willing to take their case against the law school. The local investigation was cursory and unprofessional, but the families could do nothing.
David found that Virginia, unlike every other state in the union, ruled that businesses were not accountable for any violence on their premises. Whenever such laws were promulgated to the Virginia legislature, they were blocked by vested business interests.
Angela’s family was finally awarded only a little more than $300,000 in an out of court settlement–small and inadequate compensation for the loss of a mother and daughter. The settlement was no doubt to avoid a court case where incompetence, negligence, and bureaucratic bungling of the law school, law enforcement, and elected officials, would have become public.
A Questions of Accountability: The Murder of Angela Dales, is not a pleasant read–it is extremely disturbing–but it is a must read! It is a must read because it shows beyond any doubt that the current Government’s attempts to ban assault rifles and to make it harder for criminal to get weapons, is completely misguided. Neither Peter Odighizuwa in Grundy, or Seung Hui Cho at Virginia Tech, were criminals and neither used assault rifles. This is true for the shootings in Columbine, Tucson, Newtown, and Fort Hood. These were not failures of gun control laws, but failures of officials to follow mental health protocols.
The obvious conclusion is that regardless of whether the US Government implements planned gun control laws, these callous shootings are going to continue unabated!