Disclaimer: I’m not here to justify the actions of the Aurora shooting. Nothing can warrent such a ridiculous act. Instead, I’m going to give you some background on a side that not even the media has covered. After a few days of digesting this, I decided to write my thoughts about it all and kinda describe what I’ve been thinking.
For those of you who haven’t already known, James (or Jim) was one of my 3 apartment-mates in my second year at UCR. Originally I was assigned to live with James, —- (both lived with each other freshmen year) and someone named —-, who transfered out before the fall, in the newly constructed Glen Mor apartments . During winter quarter, —– moved into the apartment. After the year was over, —- moved out with his friend, —- and I lived in —, and James lived on his own until he graduated. We have seen James randomly throughout campus and lost contact with him after 2010, especially since his facebook was deactived (not that he used it that often anyway).
I had not heard anything about him until Friday morning, when a friend posted about the suspect. I saw the picture without looking at the name and said holy ****, that’s James…I was in disbelief. It took me almost the entire day to really pull myself together…a man who’s responsible for 12 deaths and 50+ injuries was my apartment-mate. My co-workers thought I was lying at first…but seriously how do you make this stuff up? I read all these comments and articles about how much of a monster James is…and I’m mixed with emotions…none of you know him. Everyone’s disrespectful and ****…sure he did a huge crime, but he wasn’t always like this.
James was an introverted guy, no doubt about that. A smart and witty guy who prefered to be doing his own things. He was not a loner; a loner implies that he struggled to make friends and socialize. Instead, he was self-sufficient and independant. He lived his own life, had his own schedule and did it; nothing wrong with that. He would always be in his room with the door open, either doing homework, playing video games, or lying on his bed and stare at the ceiling. When you see him walk by or ride his bike, you can see that he’s in his own zone. The guy loved his solitude, but if you took the effort to get his attention you’d get it. As roommates, we would have to drag him out of his room to work out with us, or watch tv or eat. Nevertheless, he was warm and friendly. He liked listening to trance, he watches comedies such as the office, family guy, simpsons. He even came out a few times to play games with me and —–. He was never good at them, and he played 1/5th of what I used to play. He would always drive me to get groceries or to drive me to metrolink or even san diego when he was going home. The only thing I discovered was that he didn’t like going home and he especially didn’t get along with his little sister because she was bratty, but even then he would never show resentment or hate. This guy is more normal than some people I know right now. If you asked any of my roommates, they would tell you the same thing.
So what happened to this guy? I don’t know…something definitely happened to him from the time we graduated to the shooting. He apparently went to Colorado to get his PHD but he ended up dropping out. I felt no danger living and interacting with him. Hell, a few of my SD friends even stayed over and met him during the SD wildfires. The thing that we can take from all this is that this could happen to anyone. It’s unfortunate that a friend I got to know and bond with is involved with the shooting. It stings…because a vision of someone has been shattered by a crime. I feel bad that I didn’t check up on him after college. I suggest that everyone should check up on their introverted friends and get to know them better. You’ll learn a side that no one knows (remember, they’re misunderstood, not crazy). Maybe you’ll help them deal with something that they’ve been struggling with…because I feel like this could have been avoided if the proper steps were taken.
Hopefully this gives some perspective on the other side of James; my intentions aren’t to change your mind about the crime, but give you some background on an area that isn’t covered. The media does a fantastic job of making him look like a monster…but there’s always two sides of the story. I do thank the people who has been checking up on me. Prayers go out to all the victims and their families, and even James’s family.
I hope we can all move forward and learn from this instead of playing the blame game.