Just before 2pm MDT on Tuesday, May 7th, a report surfaced in that there was yet another school shooting in a suburb of Colorado.
At the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, two shooters walked into the building just before school was released and opened fire on children and staff alike. By the time the terror had ended, eight students were injured and one of them had died. Both shooters are now in custody according to the New York Times.
That is why Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone made a point to begin his pregame press conference with a statement on the shooting.
“I wanted to start out with a quick word,” Malone stated with a rare shudder in his voice. “I think we are all aware of what happened down in Highlands Ranch today at the STEM School. That is a community that I live in. I know that thoughts and prayers are never enough, but one student was killed, (seven) were injured today. From myself, our team, our organization, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those families, those students, school administrators, everybody that was there today. It is a tragedy.”
Malone also made a point to pay his respects to the first responders who heroism likely saved many lives, but also made a separate point afterwards that relates to the terrifying amount lives that have been affected by this type of violence.
“The second thing that I would like to say is a thank you to the Douglas County Sheriffs Department that was there and on top of it in a matter of minutes and all of the first responders that were there and did not allow that to become worse than it was, but it is a shame,” Malone stated as the emotion of the moment was clearly becoming hard for him to manage. “My girls have been in lockout twice in the past month. I am not a politician and I do not have the answers, but something must change. I just wanted to make sure I acknowledged what happened today, in my backyard, and that all of those families are on my mind.”
For Malone, this shooting hit him hard because it was just two minutes away from his home in Highlands Ranch and resulted in both of his daughters, who were both in school just down the street, going into lockdown with no knowledge of where the shooter could be or if their lives were in danger.
“The school is literally two minutes from where I live,” Malone explained. “It is right down Broadway in Highlands Ranch.”
For Malone, once he left his house and family in the morning to conduct shootaround with his team, he never returned to his home in the quiet Highlands Ranch suburb of Denver. He instead does as he usually does; stayed in his office and continued to prepare for the game ahead, but on Tuesday afternoon, he received a phone call that eliminated all thoughts of basketball from his head. His wife called him and told him that both of his daughters’ schools were in lockdown as an active shooter shot round after round into students and Malone had no idea if his family was safe.
“I only found out about it when I was in my office and I got a call from my wife and she was the one that told me about it,” Malone explained. “The thing that makes you angry is that she is telling me how scared my daughters are in their schools texting her. They do not know what is going on. It is a lockout. ‘Where is this shooter? Is it at our school or some other school?’
“When kids go to school they should be going to school to learn, have fun, and be with their friends. Not worrying about an active shooter. We are all part of this, right? We all have families, kids, nieces, nephews, whatever it is. It is just frustrating and it gets you angry because it hits home. That is how I felt today.”
For Malone, he still has a game to coach on Tuesday night. His Nuggets squad is currently tied 2-2 in the second round of the playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers, but when Game 5 comes and goes, he will still be left with two daughters that have to constantly live with the worry that a shooter could come into their school at any time and put their lives in danger. How does a parent even begin to have such a horrendous discussion with their child? For Malone, he has no answer.
“That is a great question,” Malone said when asked how he and his wife will discuss this issue with their daughters. “It is not something that I have really thought about. I am texting my daughter telling her she is going to be ok, but I do not even know if she will be ok. This is every partents worst nightmare.
“It is something that, when you see your kids go to school in the morning, you say ‘have a great day’ and you assume everything is just going to be alright, but as we all know, it is not. So you figure it out.”
For Malone, he wanted to send love to the families, victims, and all parties who were traumatized by the horrific events that unfolded at STEM School in Highlands Ranch, but he also wanted to make sure he hammered a particular point. This issue of school shootings is a plague — or as Malone put it, an epidemic — that is resulting in unnecessary deaths of children and that something needs to happen.
“It is not just Highlands Ranch. It is not just Colorado,” Malone stated angrily. “This is an epidemic and it continues to happen. That is the frustrating thing. How do you stop it? Gun control, laws, whatever it might be. I am not a politician and I do not want to sit up here and soapbox. I just want everybody back in Highlands Ranch to know that we are with you.”