When a terrorist comes to your hometown

When a terrorist comes to your town, you should be prepared for the copycats. You might wake up a few days after the attack to your mother shouting: “Get up. Someone has a gun in Casey’s school.”

And you will throw on your pants and race down to Colfax Elementary School, where one of your sisters is a beloved teacher. She will be on lockdown on the second floor of the building with her fourth-grade class. Police with dogs will circle the building. And her husband, a firefighter, might show up with his gun. Crying parents will start to gather across the street. One will be wearing pumpkin-patterned leggings and you might realize it’s Halloween.

Later your sister will tell you that the kids all followed the safety protocol during what thankfully turned out to be a false alarm. This includes fashioning “weapons” to throw at a man with an automatic weapon. A boy with a broken leg held up his crutch. Another had a peanut butter jar. Another wielded a bottle of Purell. Your sister will tell you that she was crouched by her desk, choking back tears while whispering to the kids that they were doing such a good job.

If you are lucky, when a terrorist comes to your town, you will bear witness to some of this country’s better angels.