Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How the planned attack on a Waseca school impacts me personally May 2, 2014

HOW DOES ONE BEGIN to write about a school tragedy averted?

That is my challenge as I reflect on the events of the past days in which a 17-year-old Waseca High School student allegedly planned to carry out a Columbine type massacre in his southern Minnesota school.

The school where my youngest sister and a friend teach and which my niece attends. The school I just drove past last Sunday while visiting my other sister in Waseca, a rural community of nearly 10,000 only a half hour drive away.

A 17-page court document outlines the charges against John David LaDue, described in media reports as a normal kid, a good kid. Now he faces multiple charges, including first degree premeditated attempted murder, in a plot to kill his family, a school resources officer and others in his school. (Click here to read the charges against LaDue and a Statement of Probable Cause filed in court documents.)

An arsenal of weapons, bombs and bomb-making equipment were found in his bedroom and a storage locker and a journal documented his plans, according to court records.

This could have been another Columbine, another Virginia Tech, another Sandy Hook, another American school tragedy. And this time it impacts those I love.

I’ve found so often in my life that, until an event touches me personally, I cannot fully understand or comprehend. It is something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. Not this time.

And not in the past: a dear friend’s father murdered; a SWAT team sweeping through my neighborhood in search of a murder weapon in a drug deal gone bad; my son struck by a hit-and-run driver; the frantic middle-of-the-night screams of a woman being assaulted across the street from my home; a frantic young man ringing my doorbell seeking protection from a gang of men in pursuit of him; a brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s niece murdered in a case of domestic violence, the son of a high school classmate and hometown neighbor hunkered down at Virginia Tech during the massacre of 32 there in April of 2007…

Now this.

It would be easy to despair, to wonder what this world is coming to. But I’m going to take my cue from Waseca School Superintendent Thomas Lee, who in a May 1 press conference (click here to read his entire statement) said in part: “We can either believe that this (arrest of John LaDue) occurred as a result of a lucky break or, as I do, choose to believe that God was looking out for all of us.”

Furthermore, Lee continues with these words worthy of reflection:

On another note I respectfully submit that these kind of events that have been happening in schools across this country should be a warning sign to us all. These events are like “canaries in the mines” – an indicator that something is deeply wrong in our culture. These kinds of events are unique to our American culture. They are certainly not found anywhere else in the world, except in very few isolated cases. Why are they unique to our American culture? What is it in our culture that fosters these kind of events? There will be many opinions about this – our obsession with violence, our tv shows and movies, lack of parenting, the prevalence of guns, corporate greed and of course, gridlock in our government. I suggest that these are all symptoms of a significantly degraded culture. We all know that nothing is guaranteed in this life but it is time that we collectively look into the mirror with honesty and integrity – that we ask ourselves how our choices are contributing to this degradation, and determine what we can do individually to stem the downward slide. We need to do everything possible to look out for one another – especially our kids.

The superintendent is spot on correct. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. And we need to look out for one another, especially our kids.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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26 Responses to “How the planned attack on a Waseca school impacts me personally”

  1. Ken Deacon Says:

    Not entirely unique to American culture. This week, in the UK, a school kid stabbed his teacher to death in the classroom. Or perhaps that’s just a sign that the UK gets its culture from America.

  2. […] How the planned attack on a Waseca school impacts me personally (Minnesota Prairie […]

  3. cecilia Says:

    This is a very important post today Audrey. It is true that having been involved in schools in NZ and the UK, Ii have never in my life come across such violence.. kids killing each other.. in schools. Canary in the mine indeed. Now .. what exactly are we going to do. How are you going to make your school safer. How am I going to. Until we take these problems unto ourselves it will continue to escalate. WE must take responsibility. So how do we do that? c

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    Since reading the article earlier today, I, too, have been thinking. We are a nation that, historically, has had great influence on the rest of the world. That has been good…..and bad. We are “one nation under God”…..but we must not acknowledge Him, or speak of Him in any place but the private confines of our homes or church (score 1 for the ruler of this earthly kingdom!). As we, as a nation, have made “things”, and our quest for such, our “gods” we have placed the God of Creation so far out of daily life that none of what is occurring is of any surprise. The approval of homosexual marriages, murdering the unborn, the preservation of natural resources/animals/birds given priority over precious babies are but the tip of the iceberg of decay that has a stranglehold on our beautiful God-blessed ‘free’ country. We find ourselves enslaved by those who will glorify human reason as “truth”. May the Lord have mercy on us!!!!!

  5. Jackie Says:

    This just takes my breath away….I will be thanking God that this planned horrific act never played out. Rick and I were just talking this morning about the changes in children especially in the school environment, there is no longer respect for teachers or any authority. Respect that used to be taught at home and then followed through at school….sigh, Lord have mercy on our Children!!! Audrey I’m so glad your family is safe, so scary!!!

  6. Bev Walker Says:

    Thank God for the intervention of the young lady to get involved and call the authorities. So thankful everyone is safe!

  7. Allan Says:

    Remember one thing about our schools today, the children can not be touched, looked at, or even called out lest the elders be sued by the student, and backed up by the wacko “Flower Children” parents. Bring back the paddle and use it! The inmates are running our asylums (schools) today. Tolerance is a tricky road to drive, look what happens to an engine if the valves are to big, or small for the cylinder, the engine will not run. Get it? Too much tolerance in society today, and the “engine” is about to blow!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    This is very sad and something I hadn’t heard about. What a blessing this man was stopped before the tragedy occurred. Yes, there is something very wrong with our culture but I could add to the list by saying that American culture started to go downhill when there was a very deliberate decision to remove God xx

  9. Love your last sentence and so very true 🙂 Kindness and compassion and love go along way in this crazy world and it is so important to hang on to each other tight and to tell each other how much we love one another!!!

    • Absolutely correct. My sister who teaches at Waseca High got two warm hugs from me when I saw her on Sunday. So frightening to think of what may have been. She said she would have been walking into the lunchroom right at the time of the planned attack.

  10. Gunny Says:

    Your all probably going to disagree:

    Children want respect. In a gang they can get it, just like they can get it in the Boy or Girl Scouts.

    Children NEED discipline! If parents can’t give it and the schools won’t give it, then the police MUST give it. The gang certainly will!

    While spanking (not beating) a child may seem inhumane or violent, then we as parents had failed to inform ourselves of the world around us. Watch some of the police reality shows. There is a thin line between spanking a child as a method of punishment and that of abuse. Keep in mind that children can be other children’s most brutal adversary.

    Children need to understand there is a severe outcome for improper, immoral and illegal behavior or even some innocent behavior, Spanking / paddling are corporal punishment that is justified in certain cases. Some deeds may not be all that bad.. Playing with a snake may be right up your kid’s “alley”! It usually is not illegal, nor would I say immoral. That is until they get a hold of a Water Moccasin or a Rattler. What they did was not wrong, but what the snake is going to do may be life threatening or even cost them their lives! Breaking nature’s laws, the law of physics or even the legal law can have bad outcomes. And, yes, YOUR child is going to test them all!

    Your children are being recruited for gangs, drugs, ISIS, prostitution, being kidnapped,by all these groups that can or want to do illegal things. Your children are exposed to hazards daily and you probably pay very little attention to these acts of stupidity. The only things to educate and keep your children safe is, the schools, the community, the church and law enforcement. Don’t be stupid, your two-year old child knows what “No” means.

    One telling account was of a 25 year old male robber who was shot during the commission of the crime stated : “Sure we robbed him, but we shouldn’t have to die for it!” Keep in mind this criminal was / is the product of the upbringing he obtained from his parents, his schools and his church. Both parents and the education system instilled a false sense of security EVEN though he was knowingly in the wrong!

    We have removed God from schools, our daughters can get abortions on demand without parental consent but must get it to get a tattoo (maybe), can vote at 18? And we get upset when little boys create bombsI My problem with the bomb is what was the child’s intent? Your child probably knows more (or thinks they do) about their legal rights.

    Sgt Bergdahl, of US Army fame, feeling he and his men were somehow being mistreated or endangered and was going to go over his commander’s head to see the “big guy” to get this all sorted out, allowed himself to be captured – and he KNEW that was a high possibility! Instead of helping keep his fellow soldiers safe, he endangered all who went to find him. By ignoring protocol to request to see his Commander’s boss, cost him 5 years in brutal captivity, six men their lives and the freeing of five of the most brutal terrorists one has a hard time comprehending. Bergdahl’s lawyer is saying that his self inflicted five years of captivity are payment enough for the six lost lives and that he should be given VA benefits. I think a spanking now or then by this man’s parents would have spared this nation a great deal of grief and loss. Again, this man is a product of of his parents and the education system’s training and upbringing. My personal opinion is Bergdahl should be doing “Left, right” at Ft Leavenworth for a VERY LONG TIME!

    Sorry for the rant. There is a problem (several). Once we see graffiti go up, everyone in the community should know that you have a gang problem. Why? Because the gang just told you! 20,000 guns laws did not stop Columbine, Sandyhook, the Colorado theater or others. Note that these were all “gun free zones”.


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