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When I was a third grader in a small river town in Southern Illinois, our tiny elementary school was taken hostage by a person armed with a gun. My four siblings and I all attended that tiny school together. My eldest brother was in 6th grade, my older sister in 5th grade, I was in 3rd grade, my younger brother in 1st grade, and my baby sister in kindergarten.

Prior to the holdup, I had unintentionally run into the perpetrator coming out of the restroom opposite of their sex, which struck me oddly at the time. I think I took them by surprise as much as they took me by surprise, but the interaction didn’t feel right to me.

Following that encounter, the perpetrator entered my little brother’s first grade classroom hostage with a pistol. She held my little brother’s classmate, who also happened to be a teacher’s daughter, at gunpoint.

Fortunately that day no one was injured and no one was killed, including the perpetrator. Though memories may fade, feelings do not. I will always remember how helpless that felt.

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