Monday, May 13, 2013

What happened last Wednesday

Last week, a former student returned to campus and got in an argument with the AUS imam (the worship leader of the mosque). During the course of this altercation, the former student stabbed the imam. The student then tried to get away in his car, but he was chased by police, who force-crashed him off the side of the road and took him into custody. The imam's injuries were not life-threatening.

The crashed car surrounded by police cars is what I saw as I left spinning class that day. I tried to get home another way, but campus was locked down. They closed all the gates - no one could get in or out. I eventually found a route home and immediately tried to find out what was going on. So of course I checked Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook was mum but Twitter told me all kinds of crazy things. The imam had been stabbed - no, SHOT - no, he was dead! And the suspect was still at large! No, the suspect had been shot! He was on the run near the men's dorms! Etc. etc. When I saw the complete hyperbole and complete lack of actual knowledge, I logged off for a while and decided to come back later when the dust had settled. When it did, there was a nice, brief statement from AUS on their Facebook page that gave the correct details as you see them in the first paragraph of this post (and in this news story).

An additional element of this story came out a few days later when it was said that the suspect suffers from bipolar disorder. If you think mental illness is stigmatized in the US...well, you're right. But you can't imagine how badly it is stigmatized here. It's hardly even a real thing that is recognized or acknowledged, let alone treated. The prevailing attitude seems to be that as long as you don't diagnose it, it doesn't exist (the same holds true for certain learning disabilities or behavioral issues, which causes trouble in the schools because certain kids can't get the help they desperately need). Things are changing for the better, but this young man who attacked this community's religious leader has a long road ahead of him.

It's very strange to think that in such a safe society, such a (relatively, for this area) violent thing could have happened practically in our neighborhood. In general, the student body seems to have been quite alarmed by it. Things are back to normal now - the imam went back to work later the same day - and I hope things stay nice and quiet, the way they have been for so many years.
photo credit: AUS Islamic Club


Suzanne Bubnash said...

I hope this incident is a spark that leads to better mental health care.

Liz Johnson said...

Amen to what your mom said. That's just a horrible incident, all the way around. :( Glad the imam wasn't further injured.

Kathy Haynie said...

How shocking to have seen the chaos on your way home, and scary-making to have such difficulty getting back to your family. I, too, am grateful to live in a safe community...but random, shocking things happen here, too. It's pretty unsettling. Then I tell myself to calm down because it's nothing like _______ (insert current dangerous location in the world). Which is true, but having the violence close to home is still unsettling. I'm glad this incident has a relatively happy ending.

Bridget said...

Kathy, I do the same thing. This was hardly a blip on the radar considering what is going on elsewhere in the world.

I also hope this leads to increased understanding of mental illness, and it might. But what is more likely is that it will lead to increased fear and suspicion of mental illness. :(

Kitty Crazy! said...

I third what your mom said. It's so crazy to think they don't get those kids help in school. Everyone that works at my place of employment is there to to help kids with learning or speech or behavioral issues. That's their whole life and job to help these kids. -Sarah


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