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Saturday April 19th 2014

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Outtakes: UCF Nightmare Too Close to Home


By Rick Outzen

The phone call was one I never thought I would get from my youngest daughter.

“Dad, I’m okay. The campus security has the gunman. He’s dead,” my daughter Claney, a coed at the University of Central Florida, told me on the morning of March 18.

That morning James Oliver Seevakumaran, a UCF business major living in the Tower 1 apartments on the Orlando campus, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His roommate had called 911 after the 30-year-old student pulled a gun on him when he heard a fire alarm, which Seevakumaran had set off.

The roommate locked himself in his bedroom. Seevakumaran killed himself in his apartment. When campus security arrived on the scene, they found in his dorm room an assault weapon, improvised explosive devices and plans for the mass murder of his fellow students in the residence hall.

By the time I reached Claney on Monday, most of the details were known and she spent most of the phone call reassuring me that all was fine with her. The university officials acted quickly. No one, but the gunman was harmed.

College should be about learning, parties, football games and deciding on a career. My little girl shouldn’t have to deal with snipers, bomb threats or mass murderers. We’ve given her the talks about being aware of her surroundings, never leaving her drink unattended at a party and letting her roommate know always where she is.

We didn’t talk about flak jackets, running for cover or what to do when a classmate comes at you with an assault rifle. And, no, the answer isn’t for my 19-year-old to carry a pistol just in case she needs to shoot her way out of music theory or dance class.

The world we live in is getting more dangerous by the day. Places that we once considered safe havens, like universities and elementary schools, aren’t anymore. It takes no more to be a victim than simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We will never know what Seevakumaran was thinking when he concocted his scheme. Some will raise the issue of mental illness and whether counseling was available. Conservatives may push for students to have more guns for protection. Liberals will go the opposite direction.

Me? I’m thankful my daughter is safe and a horrible disaster was avoided. Let’s hope her guardian angel doesn’t have to work overtime.