As you may have noticed, the month of April has been bringing forth substantially more than its fair share of terror and calamity lately. Is there something in the mid-April air that seems to lure evil to schools, government buildings and streets?
More specifically, what’s the deal with the third week of April? In the last 15 years, this particular week has produced our country’s most infamous public shootings and bombings: Oklahoma City, Columbine, Virginia Tech and — now — the Boston Marathon bombing. All four events occurred between April 15 and April 20.
Wednesday, April 19, 1995, set the tone for ghoulish Aprils. On that day, images of the desecrated Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building spewed frighteningly, addictingly across the country’s television screens. The Oklahoma City bombing claimed 168 lives and was classified as an act of terrorism.
It was the first time any person with a television could watch a bombing unfold in real time. Details were learned with each new hour and day. News stories were fixated on providing constant coverage for weeks. Feeding the public’s desire to understand the mentality behind Timothy McVeigh was a top priority.
Three years later, two high school boys began to toy around with the idea of carrying out their own mass genocide, one that would be comparable to the catastrophic Oklahoma City bombing. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold spent months planning the most effective way to destroy every student, teacher, first responder, journalist and parent that would be at Columbine High School shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 1999.
Harris created 100 bombs in preparation for the attack. He packed some in duffle bags that would explode in the cafeteria while others stored in vehicles would go off around the time first responders arrived, USA Today explained in 2009 in a disturbing look at the myths surrounding Columbine. Their detailed, written plans to kill thousands were shattered when the bombs failed to explode and the weapons originally meant “to pick off survivors fleeing the carnage” were quickly re-purposed into assassination machines for the next 49 minutes in a shooting rampage that killed 13 people and injured 21.
In the hours following the Columbine shootings, the media rushed to create an image and story of the gunmen, including false information about the fatalities.
“A hastily called news conference by the Jefferson County sheriff that afternoon produced the first headline: ‘Twenty-five dead in Colorado,'” USA Today found.
Follow-up reports were no different on April 16, 2007 when Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.
Virginia Tech is still America’s most deadly shooting incident by a single gunman and the second most deadly act of mass murder on a school campus since the 1927 Bath School disaster (an attack that occurred in May that resulted in the deaths of 38 children and six adults).
Cho’s campus terrorism received international attention from the media. His mental health was the topic of much speculation. America’s gun laws were criticized for allowing an unstable person to have possession of a firearm.
And Monday, terror once again ripped through a beautiful April day as a pair of men set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon, shattering a nation’s calm .