We’ve seen reports of a couple incidents where someone heard a sound that made them think there was an active shooter and soon a crowd of people is panicky. Unfortunately, one of the occurrences was here in Yuba-Sutter at our fairgrounds.
Why? We would surmise that it has to do with the number of shootings in such a small time – in about a week, we had the shootings at Gilroy, Dayton and El Paso. The buzz that any one mass shooting generates via social media is troubling for all of us ... when you merge the buzz from three separate incidents within such a short timeframe, there’s a likelihood we’ll all be more easily panicked.
We reported that despite assurances from police that reports of gunfire at the fairgrounds Sunday night were unfounded, many citizens seem suspicious, it was reported earlier this week.
Around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, hundreds of fairgoers ran toward exits and sought shelter in buildings after some in the crowd claimed there was an active shooter. Many fairgoers say they heard what could have been a single gunshot from the area of Garden Highway. There were other reports – that someone was life-flighted from the fairgrounds (that happened in Colusa County); that arrests had been made (there weren’t).
We hear other accounts that law enforcement came into the scene, had people shelter in buildings, methodically (as methodically as possible considering our rambling fairgrounds and buildings) cleared the area, found no armed suspect, found no one who had actually seen a suspect with a gun, cleared the grounds and declared there was no threat.
What bothers us is that there seems to be a fair amount of skepticism about the way law enforcement handled the incident here at the Yuba-Sutter Fair. There are even people who believe the police may be writing off their concerns; even more troubling that that is that the police might be trying to cover something up. We have no idea what the thinking is for a motive for police to cover up a shooting incident. We wonder if it comes from the genuine fear some people felt – so much so that they are willing to question the ethics of the people who rushed in to do their best to order the situation and confront a possible assailant.
The truth seems to be there simply wasn’t one.
Regardless, we’re not blaming a single soul for being afraid, presuming the worst, feeling skeptical. Even if you’re disinclined to feel panicky in such situations, the curious power of a crowd can soon overwhelm any of us.
We wish it weren’t so, but it seems likely that we’ll have to become more deft at interpreting sounds and commotions. We can’t let the monsters of the world and their terrible deeds cow us into staying in our homes and never venturing out. We’ve got to defy the cowardly meanness they represent; we’ll have to learn to stay calm – take action, run when necessary, hide or fight when necessary, but stay calm.
It’s going to be hard.
Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal–Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.