. "3. Bad Things Happen in Good Communities: The Rampage Shooting in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and Its Aftermath." Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence
federal grant for a resource officer but, to receive it, town officials had to maintain the same department budget level for the duration of the grant. That commitment was not forthcoming, as two police positions in town were also funded by grants that would end during the time of the new grant, and it was very unlikely that the town would continue to carry them. With that, Edinboro’s police chief, Jeffrey Craft, contacted all of the municipalities that send students to the General McLane School District about funding the position, but McKean Township was unwilling to take that step.
In 1998, Patricia Crist had been Parker’s principal for 11 years. Like many principals, Crist received her share of criticism from parents and teachers, especially after the shooting. Those who had always disliked her policies or style now found ample reason to call for her ouster. She served for two additional years and then stepped down, moving next door to the high school to be a teacher and mid-level administrator.
The town government has launched no major initiatives since the shooting. In the private sector, beginning in September 1999, the Christian Institute of Human Relations has sponsored The Hangout, a youth center built in a defunct two-screen movie theater. Plans for the center were under way prior to the shooting. Under the direction of high school coprincipal Rick Scaletta, the center provides a coffeehouse and band hall for older teens to listen to live music, play pool or ping pong, and talk. The Hangout does not have programs for middle school kids, although some will occasionally attend a concert. The center’s ultimate purpose is to provide a venue for Christian ministry, but all young people, even those uninterested in the religious program, are welcomed.
The regional bands that play at the center are heavy metal and hardcore groups. Most are secular, but some, such as Closer Than Dying, play music with religious themes. Advertising for the concerts is youth-oriented and hard edge (e.g., “You Ain’t Cool Unless You Pee Your Pants”). The Hangout’s religious educators then try to make the link between this youth culture and Christianity. One brochure, explaining Christian belief about the crucifixion, speaks of Jesus Christ “receiving the ultimate body piercing.” After kids have come to the center a few times, the educators approach them one-on-one to talk and to let them know about The Gathering, a Tuesday-evening prayer session held there.
Edinboro’s residents are quite aware of The Hangout and view it as a positive force in the community. The Christian Institute of Human Relations, a nonprofit corporation, is dependent on private donations to meet its operating costs of about $2,500 per month, many of which come from local churches. Adult volunteers serve as chaperones, help maintain the youth center, and lead religious programs. So far, the center has been a success.