I was picking up my 14-year-old from her middle school. As we walked to the car, a Harley-riding motorcyclist [not shown, obvs.] came burbling into the parking lot. He was wearing sunglasses and a skeleton-face bandana that covered his face. A dad coming to pick up his child? Well . . .
I’ve never seen a biker at the school before. I didn’t see a second helmet. As far as I could tell it was a single seat Sportster.
I asked Lola if she recognized the bike. She said no. When the bike disappeared around the side of the school, just ahead of a line of school busses, where the parking lot ends, where no one waits for their kids, outside of anyone’s sight, I got a bad feeling . . .
Should I have gone and investigated myself, disarmed as I was? Maybe. Instead, I went into the school to report the biker.
I walked right in; the school’s front door and subsequent office door are never locked. I reported my suspicions to one of the women manning the desk. She went to tell the Vice Principal.
The vice principal wasn’t in her office. As someone went to find her, the woman returned her attention to the kids clamoring for bureaucratic dispensation.
My nerves got the better of me. “I think this is more important than dealing with students,” I said. “Are you going to call the police?”
I don’t know if I waited for an answer. I called them myself.
“Police, fire or emergency?”
“Where are you calling from?”
“XXX Middle School.”
“What’s the address please?”
“I don’t know.”
Silence. Seconds ticking by.
“I’m at XXX Middle School and there’s a suspicious person on a motorcycle. I need to speak to the police now.”
“This is the police,” the operator said, defensively. “I need to get the address.” Pause. “Is it XXXX?”
“Yes. I guess.”
I gave her a description of what I’d seen. I confirmed my name and phone number. She said a deputy was on his way.
Two minutes passed. Then another minute. And another. And another.
The Vice Principal came out of the school and walked up to me. I filled her in and asked if she knew if any of the parents picked up their kid on a bike. Not that she knew of.
“Did you call the police?” she asked.
She retreated into the school, satisfied that I’d made the call.
Another minute went by. And another. I reckon five minutes elapsed since I called 911, at least seven minutes since I raised my concern with school staff.
The Vice Principal returned to the parking lot and walked slowly towards me. She told me that it was indeed a parent who’d come to pick up his kid. “He’s just parking around the side of the building.”
I called 911 and told the police to stand down.
Adrenaline distorts time perception, but at least ten minutes elapsed since I walked back into school to voice my concern about a suspicious person.
No officer ever showed up.
Spree killer Nikolas Cruz spent six minutes shooting students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
When I told Jon Wayne Taylor about my frustration with the school’s slow response he said, “We’re on our own.”
The terrible part: it isn’t me on my own. Its my daughter.