Freeman High School Shooting
- September 13, 2017. Spokane
County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich’s message at a press conference after the
fatal school shooting at Freeman High School in Rockford, WA.
Sheriff Knezovich spoke to the Spokane community,
sharing his own thoughts about what he thinks is a culture of violence
that makes senseless violence a norm. This Sheriff is known for speaking
candidly about issues that he feels strongly about. Much of the
discussion at the press conference concerned his thoughts on society and
school shootings, why they happen, and what he thinks has to happen to
change that.“We have another tragic situation,
where a young man decided to go and kill some of his friends. Why
? Because we have a culture that said, 'It's OK.'
And you need to start fixing that.“Folks, you are going to find
that I am very much not
politically correct, and the older I get, the less my filter works. “We have developed a system within our schools
that those teachers and those administrators and everything else are so
handcuffed and so hamstrung, that they can't deal with the issues that
they need to deal with; because we have put so many restrictions on
their ability to control their classrooms, to keep people that shouldn't
be in school, out of school.
"Don't be blaming the schools for this.
You're the ones that put the restrictions on them. Take a hard look at
what you've got, because we have some kids that are in need of some
very severe help,
and we as a society are not giving them that help. If
anything, we are enabling them. So take a hard look at what you are
seeing here. You're not going to hear me tap dance about this. You've
got a mess out there. We created it.
You need to figure out how to fix
it.“This is a situation that plays out
in our society way too often, and we as a society, need to make a determination as to 'What's causing this?'
Because, I can tell you that 35 years ago isn’t that long ago, and we didn’t do that.
“Where did we really go sideways in raising our kids?
Perhaps, we taught them to glorify the wrong things. All of this
violence they constantly consume, has come home to pay a major price. “It is time
for each and every one of us to say, ‘No more’
to the hate that we see, and to the violence that we see. We have now a
culture where people think that they can dress in black and go out and
commit all kinds of acts of violence in the name of trying to get their
own way. That’s not who we are, folks. That is not the way the system
was designed. We deserve as a society, and quite frankly our kids
deserve, much better than we have given them. It is time for you to
wake up. No more hatred. No more radicalized hate.
None of this is
going to make any sense; because you can’t make any sense of the
senseless, and this is just senseless violence. “That young man (suspect) was carrying
an AR15 and a handgun. Thank God he had jammed that AR up so badly,
that it was not going to function. He transitioned to that pistol, and
when one of the classmates that he knew came up to him and tried to talk
him out of it, he put one round in his midsection and one round in his
head. He then indiscriminately started firing, striking three other
classmates, who thankfully are now recovering in the hospital. “That young man
(Sam Strahan who tried to stop the suspect from firing at their fellow
students) who gave his life, stepped into the breach that we as a
society have created, to save his fellow classmates. “The next hero
in this is the janitor, Joe Bowen. As soon as Joe saw the situation,
the shooter luckily had run out of ammunition, had thrown his pistol
down, went like this (arms out), and Joe confronted the shooter, ordered
him to the ground, and then held him there.
“The school Resource Deputy
in the middle school, which was right across the street from the high
school. He did what he was trained to do. He ran towards that gun
fire, went into that school alone, and helped Joe take that suspect into
custody. That school Resource Deputy and that school and that
community have a special relationship to the point that a few years ago
that community named a day after that deputy. They love each other, and
that’s the way it should be. Maybe that’s what we need to teach our
kids any more, some of that old
school stuff, Love One Another. "We now have a 15-year old in Juvenile
that will be going in front of a judge. All indications are that the
Spokane County Sheriff’s Office plans to recommend the 15-year old
shooting suspect be prosecuted as an adult and charged with premeditated
murder, because this young gentleman got sucked into a counter culture
of violence, a culture that is enamored with school shootings. “And media, you are to blame for that,
you keep giving these people headlines. You keep using their names.
In using their names, you have made them heroes to some people. If I
had my way, none of these people’s names would ever be remembered. The
family’s name would be remembered. Joe’s name might be remembered, but
not the shooter’s. Until we start treating these people for what they
are - killers,
not heroes - they’re going to continue this
violence. It needs to end. If we are going to have a peaceful society,
you (media) need to help us end this violence. “You (media) have glorified cultures of violence.
have glorified the gang culture. You have glorified games that
actually give you points for raping and killing people. Guns haven't
changed. We have changed.“To those in the political world, ‘Knock it off! Enough!’
Both the right and the left. You are both enamored by a radicalized
hate. You seem to hate everybody and everything. It’s time for you to
end that, too; because we, the American people, desire better than what
you are giving us, and it’s time we demand better than what you are
giving us. “We have a community that is in mourning.
still have a funeral to go to. This will be a long process. But I
will tell you, if I could, I would have you all experience what that
mother experienced yesterday, and what every police officer and every
student and every parent experienced yesterday, when she found out her
son wasn’t coming home, because there's nothing like that scream.
You will never forget it. I have heard it one too many times. My heart
goes out to her, because she lost her husband 3 months ago also. Half
of her family is now gone, part because of senseless violence.
“If there is something (the media) want to communicate
to the American public, it is the true aftermath of these shootings,
which is the victims, not the shooter. Maybe that is what you need to
focus on, because maybe you will influence the next kid that wants to do
this, when they see the carnage they leave behind, because that is what
this is, is carnage. We do not deserve this as a nation, and it is
time to put an end to it. “There is a message
to those who see (violence) coming (and don’t speak up). You need to prevent that. “Here is the problem though.
We have made doing what is right
- wrong. Because the minute one of these kids goes in and says ‘Joey is going to do something,’
they get labeled what? A snitch. We have made doing what is right
wrong. So, we need to teach those kids that if you see something like
this, we need to know. If you see something like this on Facebook or
social media, we need to know. We are not mind readers. “We need to train our kids
to do the right thing,
rather than create a culture where, if they try to do the right thing
they are chastised. If you see it, talk about it, but don't label
them. And kids, if you see it, you need to speak up, because it may be
your friend that you save. You can't be afraid of losing a friend,
because you don't know how many friends it could cost you. But that is
one of the things we definitely need to make sure our kids understand,
that it's OK to do the right thing
, they are not a snitch, its doing the right thing
“We are not mind readers folks. We need to know that before we can do
anything, but at the same time the system needs to allow us to do
things.“We (law enforcement) had no knowledge of this matter,
no prior knowledge. I would love to have known, because maybe we could
have done something. That's not a guarantee, because what would we have
done? We would have gotten a hold of mental health. "I don't blame the local mental health either.
don't have the money to deal with this, because the State has abandoned
them. They have pushed this problem to the local level, and the local
levels are not equipped to deal with it. This is a state and national
issue, and they had better wake up and start dealing with it.“Quite frankly this is another example
of the mental health system in this country collapsing around our ears.
And perhaps those elected officials who control those monies can funnel
a little bit more to help these people out, because our mental health
system is collapsing.(Regarding the toll that it takes on law enforcement)
are things that we live with on a constant day-to-day basis. The toll
that it takes on us? Ask the deputy that stepped into my office three
weeks ago and said, "Boss, I can't do it no more." And he is laying down
15 years of a career. Because he can't do it anymore, because of the
violence that he has seen, because of what is going on in this nation.
And folks, when we
start giving up, you
are in trouble!“For those of you in the greater Spokane area,
when your kids come home tonight, I hope you give them a kiss, and give
them a hug, because they came home. There will be one young man who
doesn't come home, ever
Conference: “Spokane Co. Sheriff: Media, government and society to
blame for school shootings," KREM 4 TV News, September 2017, http://www.krem.com/news/local/tragedy-in-freeman/spokane-co-sheriff-media-government-and-society-to-blame-for-school-shootings/474924388
- SURVIVE an ACTIVE SHOOTER incident. Training for individuals and
groups in Spokane County. All work places should have plans for
dealing with Emergencies, including an Active Shooter. FREE TRAINING by
Spokane Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Johnston
Crime Prevention Unit