CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Jason Schooley lives two blocks from Arapahoe High School. After the shooting, he put on his Arapahoe High letterman’s jacket and walked to the corner of University and Dry Creek with a candle in a Dixie cup to catch the wax and then he lit the candle. He stood alone watching the police lights and the blur of media reporters talking into cameras across the street. He stood facing the school, past the police barricades, and diverted traffic. The temperature plummeted with the sun. He put on his Broncos beanie.
“I don’t really know what to say,” he said.
Schooley graduated in 1998 from the high school, just before the massacre at Columbine, which is mere miles away from here. His jacket bears insignia that says he earned it for playing the saxophone in school band. He didn’t think a shooting would happen again in Colorado like this. He felt like he was in shock, like a bomb went off, he said. There was no one else around with a candle. He cupped the small light flickering against the cold and the wind.
“I didn’t want to sit at home and watch the news anymore, so I thought I’d come out and do something, maybe not something productive, just something.”
Earlier, kitty-corner from the school, a father and daughter walked a dog on a leash. They watched families streaming away from the school, teenagers in sweatpants wrapped in blankets, the children hugging their parents and sobbing, talking rapidly about where they’d been, how they felt. The dog nuzzled his nose to the ground, sniffing rocks. The father and daughter moved against the families walking back to their cars.
“It really puts the shivers in you,” said Emily Galt, the daughter. She works at Vitamin Cottage near the school. “It’s insane that it happened here, where everyone seems so happy. Now there’s nothing but remorse everywhere.”
“Where did he get that gun?” the father, Rob Galt, asked. “Was it just lying around? It’s not just the shooter who’s at fault.”
In the shops located inside the police barricade, workers stood outside watching the police lights or huddled in small groups inside stores like King Soopers, talking. There were no customers. At the nail salon across the street, a woman was getting her haircut and another was getting her nails done.
All the students had been evacuated and most had been picked up by their parents, and Schooley stood in the lonely corridor between two police barricades, looking at the school in his jacket with his candle, night spread thick across the sky.
[ Image by Shelby Kinney-Lang ]