By Abram Cordell
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at the Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City Monday evening, killing five people and injuring several others.
Though the killings took place in Salt Lake City, BYU students experienced dismay in reaction to the violent tragedy.
Erin Crane, a senior from Taft, Calif., majoring in psychology, was on the phone with her mother when the initial news about the Trolley Square shootings broke.
Crane initially knew that the gunman had injured bystanders; it was only later that she learned five people had been killed.
“It looked like a movie, it didn”t look real,” Crane said. “I didn”t know they were actually dead.”
Crane”s reaction of shock was typical of BYU students, many of whom were alerted to the tragedy by the morning news or paper.
Kasey Welsh, a junior from Bakersfield, Calif., majoring in linguistics, suffered from the same initial lack of information as Crane.
“I was very confused about what was going on,” Welsh said. “Reporters weren”t telling us very much.”
As more information was released, it became clear how serious this attack was.
In addition to the five who were killed, four were seriously injured. The victims were identified as Jeffrey Walker, 52; Vanessa Quinn, 29; Kirsten Hinkley, 15; Teresa Ellis, 29; and Brad Frantz, 24.
Welsh remembered hearing a witness recount the casual nature in which the gunman took peoples” lives. Welsh then expressed his thoughts on how the media could have affected this event.
“Its like something out of the movies,” Welsh said. “Maybe you could blame the media for glorifying gunfights.”
Welsh said because the killings took place in Salt Lake City, they seemed more personal.
“When it”s close to home, it puts things into perspective that those people really did die,” Welsh said.
Lauryn Dawes, a senior from Austin, Texas, majoring in exercise science, said she is afraid the news will not hit close enough to home.
Dawes said she is always cautious of her surroundings, sometimes to the point of being made fun of. It is events like these that make her feel unsafe, even at BYU.
“I wish people would just realize that just because we”re here doesn”t mean we”re immune from it,” Dawes said.
People need to be aware that things like this can happen at anytime, Dawes said.
“When I see girls running alone at night I want to pull over and tell them that just because you”re in Provo doesn”t mean you can do that,” Dawes said.
Matt Critchfield, a senior majoring in exercise science from Jackson, Calif., said he realized people take Salt Lake City lightly, but there is only so much one can do to insure personal safety.
“There is no way to prevent crazy people from doing things like that,” Critchfield said. “I”m glad the police were able to take care of the situation before more people got hurt.”
Other students wondered what kind of person was capable of committing such violent acts.
“I just want to know why he would want to do that,” said Ryan Payne, a freshmen from Las Vegas, majoring in biology. “I guess I just want to know background – does he have a history of stuff like that before or is it just totally out of the blue?”
In addition to being a shopping mall, Trolley Square hosts dances and concerts, many of which are attended by BYU students.
Chauncey Bratt, a senior from Provo who is majoring in Russian, said the shootings would not deter him from going to Trolley Square.
“I don”t think [the shootings] would,” Bratt said. “I would feel a reverence and a deep emotional attachment because of what happened there. I wouldn”t feel scared there more than at any other place.”