Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Review of "Shots Fired in Terminal 2," by William Hazelgrove

Review of
Shots Fired in Terminal 2, by William Hazelgrove, ISBN 9781633883833

Five out of five stars
 I will open this review with the statement that I missed a multiple shooting/death event by one work day. I was working as a programmer in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa in the fall of 1991. I was scheduled to be at work Friday, November 1, but I had just completed a trip to the former Soviet Union and due to delays did not get back until late on October 31. Therefore, too exhausted to be productive, I called in weary and beaten the morning of November 1.
 That afternoon, Chinese graduate student Gang Lu went on a shooting rampage, killing five people and leaving another very seriously  injured before killing himself. I was back at work the following Monday and experienced the aftershocks from the people that lived through it. I knew two of the killed and worked closely with a graduate student that witnessed the first shootings. If I had been at work that day, there is a high probability that I would have encountered him in the halls as he went from one location to another.
 With this experience, I can pronounce Hazelgrove’s descriptions of how his family coped with being in the area of a shooting after the event was over very accurate. People that I knew tried to act as if everything is once again normal when it is in fact not. Hazelgrove comments on how lucky they were not to be in the line of fire and how easy it would have been to have gotten dead simply be being in the wrong location at the wrong time. I have had those thoughts as well. Even decades later I wonder what I would have done if I had encountered Gang Lu when he was calmly walking from one room to another and reloading.
 Hazelgrove and his family were in the Fort Lauderdale airport on January 6, 2017 when a lone gunman started shooting, killing five and wounding eight. Along with thousands of other people they experienced a period of terror followed by waiting around under an enormous cloud of uncertainty. Hazelgrove was interviewed by national networks immediately after and became a brief and uncertain celebrity. This is his well-written account of one of the most extraordinary days that one could ever experience.
 The action moves back and forth from his family’s experiences to descriptions of mass shootings in America, most of which are unfortunately recent and increasing in frequency. While Hazelgrove tones down his support for gun control, it is clear that he is in favor of it. Particularly in reference to the people that are clearly mentally ill.
 This is a great book, it is a rare occasion when a talented novelist is part of such an event, survives it and then writes about it. No one is talented enough to completely express what such an event is like, yet Hazelgrove comes very close.

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