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09/20/2010

Traumatic loss of life at Silver Lake skate park...

***Need to talk to someone about what happened? Call the Crisis Connection (24 hours): 1-612-379-6363 or toll-free at 866-379-6363, a person will speak with you after the short introduction.***

Please take a moment to appreciate the ones you love tonight.

This afternoon I visited the skate park at Silver Lake near the swimming pool — to speak with youth and young adults traumatized by a terribly public suicide.

Several of the witnesses told me that the shooter appeared to be preparing to shoot those around him and suggested that he perhaps made a split-second decision to turn the gun instead upon himself.

He shot approximately eight times into a tree and then shot and killed himself, multiple witnesses said. A police officer on the scene said there was one deceased, unidentified youth who took his own life.

I extend my sorrow to this young person's loved ones — I know there are no words of comfort that can change what has happened.

I also extend my compassion to those who witnessed the loss of this precious life in an up-close way that no person should ever have to.

I spoke with a 12-year-old who directly saw what was happening and ran to escape.

He said he felt safe afterward, even though the shooting frightened him, because his brother (who also witnessed the death) was with him and his parents were on the way too.

The brothers talked about how there are so many shootings these days where someone randomly starts shooting people without forewarning and they feared that was what was about to happen at the skate park.

09-20 skate park death group photo by Ken Klotzbach sept 20 2010  kk
[Young people stand near the skate park after the gunman died, some calling loved ones with cell phones. Post-Bulletin photo by Ken Klotzbach. Copyright.]

I am thankful that no other lives were lost, but heartsick about what happened, and especially about the effect this will have on these young individuals. I can't imagine witnessing something of this nature at the age of 12 (much less 16 or 20). 

Please remember, three months or six months or a year from now, that these teens and young people — and the emergency personnel who responded — have experienced a severe emotional shock and it might take a long time to deal with.

My wish is that the skateboarding community, classmates, family, friends and neighbors will rally around the witnesses of this event and "hold them up" with support, not just with a hand on the back and kind words now, but with that same kind of compassion throughout the many months that follow as they deal with the aftermath of this tragic loss.

<Please note: Some reports suggest the individual who died might have been a young adult.>

***Need to talk to someone about what happened? Call the Crisis Connection (24 hours): 1-612-379-6363 or toll-free at 866-379-6363, a person will speak with you after the short introduction.***

Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

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TW — Thanks for your note to Colton. If you're able, please do try talking with others who knew him, or with the folks at the Crisis Connection: 1-612-379-6363 or toll-free at 866-379-6363. You can talk to a real person after the short introduction.

colton i love and miss you so muchh

Thank you very much for this article... It was very thoughtful and compassionate...I live in Indiana but my 15 year old grandson was on his way to the park when he learned about this tragedy. My prayers go out to this young man's family and friends.

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