Grafton Peterson, the father of Erin Peterson who was killed during the Virginia Tech rampage, has died. Peterson died of a heart attack in late March. Technically he died of heart problems. But in fact, the murder of his only surviving child (another daughter died when she was eight), is what killed him.
With Peterson’s death, Cho has claimed another victim. State as well school officials are once again culpable. Families need the truth when their children are gunned down; they need to know all the facts; they need for officials to come clean. But, the persistent lies, deceit, and cover-ups in the Tech rampage have prevented parents and survivors from returning to even a modicum of a normal life.
The same types of lies and deceit were there when Angela Dales, the mother of my oldest grandchild, was killed at the first school shooting in Virginia—the Appalachian School of Law, January 16, 2002. I watched Danny Dales, Angie’s father, die a slow death from grief. All of us tried to cut through the duplicity and falsehoods on the part of people in positions of authority. For example, the law school president, in a staff meeting shortly before the shooting, replied to female professors requests for school security by saying, “Oh, you women and your hormones, nothing will happen, it will be all right.” He was never asked to explain that, much less held accountable.
In the case of Virginia Tech, the hypocrisy knows no bounds. School officials, politicians, and even the Virginia Supreme Court, have thought nothing about lying (claiming they did not know Cho was violent), undercutting legislation to make our schools safer (a bill did not pass the Virginia legislature until the wording made it impossible for university and college presidents to be held accountable for school safety regulations), and even obstructing justice and denying people their rights to a fair court hearing (a Virginia Supreme Court Justice introduced false evidence into a court proceedings).
I can write volumes (and I have) about the hypocrisy surrounding the two school shootings in Virginia.
And people ask the victims’ families why it is so hard for them to move on.