LIVE IN FEAR? TRAGEDY IN VEGAS

In the week after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, investigators have uncovered more questions than answers. The biggest unanswered question, of course, remains why a retired, wealthy gambler with no history of crime opened fire from his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino into a crowd of 22 thousand people attending a Jason Aldean concert at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. 

Piedmont students awoke to the news Monday morning, and went to class with their own questions unanswered. 

“I still don’t understand how he got that many guns,” senior mass communications major Durden Smith said. “That could’ve happened anywhere. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened closer to here, like in Atlanta because we always have big events.” 

Smith was at a Kesha concert in Atlanta the Friday before the Las Vegas shooting. She didn’t question whether her life was in danger. 

“I got lost and I didn’t think about anything else,” she said. “It was just the music, and everybody there to see one person. It was very united.” 

Smith wonders if she will be as carefree at the next concert she attends. 

“I’m a little hesitant but I am not going to stop going to concerts,” Smith said. “That’s what they want, to get in your head. I’m still going to go.”

Mass Communications professor Joe Dennis was also at the Kesha concert. 

“To know I was just at a concert over the weekend, it was shocking,” Dennis said. “Knowing also that I have taken my kids to Athfest, a big outdoor concert in downtown Athens, it was really just devastating to see that happen.” 

That Monday Dennis scrapped his scheduled class material and chose to show his students news coverage of the shooting instead. 

“This has never happened before,” Dennis said. “I never taught a class on a day when such major news was breaking. I felt it was very important for students to know what’s going on and to be aware that they are living through a historic event, the worst mass shooting, and what hopefully will always be the worst mass shooting in United States history.” 

Dennis made the decision on his commute from Athens that morning. 

“I was really shaken up,” Dennis said. “It would have been difficult for me to teach what I had planned that day. I had just spent the drive to Demorest in the car listening to all the news reports and crying because I was so taken aback by the violence and the bloodshed that happened to people unsuspectingly.” 

As a journalism professor, Dennis felt he had an obligation to show his class the news coverage. But he also remembered his outrage when some teachers chose to ignore the news of another American tragedy. 

“When 9/11 happened, I was working at a county newspaper and I remember interviewing high school students and teachers as to what they did that day,” Dennis said. “I was really taken aback that some school administration officials said to go on as planned and not talk about what was happening. That just really upset me and blew my mind because that is so important, to be involved and to understand.”