Students Grapple With Anxiety, Paranoia Following Possible Shooting Threat


Photo by: Leticia Leal

Within the first two weeks of the fall semester, students received an email from FCC President Carole Goldsmith on Tuesday, Aug. 20, about a possible shooting threat. Campus police found “no credible threat.”

Story By: Hannah Lanier, News Editor

The New Normal

You walk into a crowded place and the first thing you look for is the nearest emergency exit.

You start the school day as a wave of anxiety rushes over you.

You are more alert than ever. You are ready for the worst case scenario.

“It is better to be prepared than gone,” said Melissa Miller, a student at Fresno City College. 

This is the new normal for most students in America.  This is the reality for all Americans in any public place. 

The Violence

On Aug. 4, 2019, 10 victims were killed by a .223-caliber while 17 others were injured walking down a street in Dayton, Ohio.

One day before, Aug. 3, 2019, 22 victims were killed by an AK-47 while 24 others were injured shopping at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

Just five days before that on July 28, 2019, four victims were killed by an AR-15 style gun while 15 others were injured at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California.

These three shootings were within the span of a week, killing approximately 36 victims and injuring several more, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

According to CBS News, there were 255 mass shootings in the first eight months of 2019 prior to August 5, 2019.

This unfortunate reality in America led FCC to act out the active shooter procedure on Aug. 20, 2019 following a rumor of a possible shooting set to happen on campus.

A nationwide epidemic was suddenly and extremely localized. 

The Fear

FCC student, Miller, faced a similar shooting threat at her old high school. “It’s just following me around now,” she said. 

“We should feel safe while at school,” Jayln Mccoy, a nursing major, said. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their kids’ safety while at work.”

The mass shootings sweeping across America have left its people, its parents, and its students  with an overwhelming sense of heartache, grief and worry. 

“Gun violence should not be happening,” Destinee Felisciano, an FCC student, said. 

But it is happening. And it is happening nearly everywhere. 

Sonia Rodriguez, a sociology major, worries about gun violence and its normalization. “[Almost] anyone can have a gun or anything can be mistaken as a gun [causing a reaction with a gun],” she said.

The normality of mass shootings in America has resulted in a rise of caution and suspicion, especially of strangers, and especially at FCC.

The Authorities

“In the wake of the shootings that have happened in our nation, it is important for young peopleall peopleto be aware of your surroundings, know where all of your exits are, and just take an active approach to staying safe,” said FCC President Carole Goldsmith.

“Students want to know if they could get that information [on the possible shooter] faster,” said ASG Senator Armando Garcia. 

“I did tell them that procedure for the situation was acted out in a timely manner in order to avoid mass hysteria,” said the senator, referring to the fact that it was not a credible threat.

While some students express their concerns of safety on campus, others have faith in the campus police to handle any future active shooter situations. 

After the incident on Tuesday, August 20, there was an increased police presence on campus. “The number of officers [on campus] is enough to make anyone feel comfortable,” said Grayson Galimba, history major.

“Our police officers are doing a great job to keep our campus safe,” added FCC adjunct professor Roberto Carlos. 

“I feel safe on campus,” said Samuel Montano, interim coordinator of psychological services. “But with all the recent events it does raise people’s hypervigilance and anxiety. I have felt that way as well as my staff. Feelings of hopelessness and uncertainty of how to respond to an active shooter.”

FCC Police Chief Jose Flores cautioned against being paranoid. “We cannot live in fear. Knowledge is power,” he said.

Flores continued to explain that nothing can be done out of fear, a person’s best chance when faced with a threat is knowing how to respond.

“I believe that staff and faculty have the knowledge to respond and recognize these situations so that we can respond quickly,” said Flores. “It’s ugly but it’s simple, we find the threat and neutralize the threat. These [shootings] last seconds because we know what to do.”

In actuality, unlike the alert sent out to faculty and students about the possible shooting, “If there was really going to be a shooting, nobody will know about it. That’s the scariest part,” said  Cassandra Aguilar, FCC student. 

Mass shootings have been happening every month of the year of 2019: in places of worship, places meant for education, places intended to bring laughter and joy.

“It can happen anywhere,” Professor Carlos said. “America is the only country in the world with this number of mass shootings within eight months.” 

The Solution

The people remain divided. Half the country wants a world without guns, one where weapons are strictly regulated. 

Grayson Galimba, FCC student, sees it differently. “I don’t think enough people are educated in the realm of firearms.” He said that guns provide a sense of security.

Regardless, the country is afraid. Scared of the what if situations. Anxious for being in a crowded area.

The survivors of these tragedies turned statistics have become activists. High school children have organized nationwide marches in protest.

“People are really stepping up and advocating more than ever before,” said Montano.  “Still, more [people] need to come together to advocate for change.”

The country is at a crossroad.  

“I hope things will calm down, but I don’t think they will,” Miller said. “We just have to hope for the best.”