In a somber yet open discussion, Arlingtonians opened up about their feelings on the worst mass shooting in American history.
St. Charles Borromeo Church in Clarendon hosted a discussion session to talk about the shootings that took place two weeks ago on the Virginia Tech campus.
On April 16, Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people along with himself in a rampage that has caused people throughout the state and the nation to question how such an inexplicable act of violence could have happened.
Many questions were raised at the forum but few answers were offered.
"Where are the parents of that student [Cho]?" wondered Daphne Williams, a longtime Arlington resident. "Didn’t they realize something was wrong? Or did they just ignore it?"
Mary Beth Campfield, another Arlington resident, felt that blame should not be assessed to anyone at this stage, neither the shooter’s family nor school and law enforcement authorities who are being criticized for not acting sooner to close down the campus.
"The police did everything they could," she said. "We need to pray for the families and the people there. Can you imagine what they’re going through?
Germaine Leahy felt that the immense media coverage of the tragedy took a bad situation and made it worse.
"These people had their own grief to deal with," the Arlington resident said. "They didn’t want to be bombarded by the media."
Priscilla Johnson is also a resident of Arlington and has children that attend Yorktown High School. She bemoaned the desensitizing of the culture to violence and worries that the youth may not be fully appreciating the horror of what occurred.
"I don’t think the kids really think this happened," she said.
Michelle Miller works for St. Charles Church, planning adult events. She tried to focus on what could be done to prevent the next tragedy and what role religion plays in this.
"Mental health services can work with spirituality," Miller stated. "They’re not at odds anymore."
After discussion concluded, Father Gerry Creedon addressed the group. He emphasized forgiveness, of Cho and his family, over all else and said that isolation breeds these kinds of violent behavior.
"Silence is overrated," the priest said. "We need to be able to articulate our feelings, especially our negative ones."