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There was shooting in the hallway
Krista Gneiting was preparing her students at Rigby middle school for their final exams when she heard gun shots.
When the math teacher looked outside her classroom, she saw the custodian lying on the floor. Then, she heard two more shots and closed the classroom door.
“I just told my students, ‘We are going to leave, we’re going to run to the high school, you’re going to run hard, you’re not going to look back and now is the time to get up and go,’” Gneiting told Good Morning America.
De-escalation using compassion
After ushering her students to safety, Gneiting went to help one of the injured students. Then, she saw the shooter — a sixth-grade girl.
“It was a little girl, and my brain couldn’t quite grasp that,” Gneiting said. “I just knew when I saw that gun, I had to get the gun.”
Police said the student brought the handgun to school in her backpack and shot two people inside the building and one outside — all were injured but released from hospital within a few days.
“Are you the shooter?” Gneiting asked, as she carefully approached the girl. Then, she touched the girl’s arm and slowly moved it down before grabbing the weapon.
“I just slowly pulled the gun out of her hand, and she allowed me to. She didn’t give it to me, but she didn’t fight,” Gneiting said. “And then after I got the gun, I just pulled her into a hug because I thought, this little girl has a mom somewhere that doesn’t realize she’s having a breakdown and she’s hurting people.”
The young girl needed help
Gneiting held the girl as she waited for police to arrive.
“After a while, the girl started talking to me, and I could tell she was very unhappy,” Gneiting said. “I just kept hugging her and loving her and trying to let her know that we’re going to get through this together. I do believe that my being there helped her because she calmed down.”
Gneiting then informed the girl that the officer would need to put her in handcuffs, and she didn’t resist.
“She didn’t respond, she just let him. He was very gentle and very kind, and he just went ahead and took her and put her in the police car,” Gneiting said.
The student — who has not been named due to Idaho law — has been charged for the shooting.
“I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back into where she loves herself so that she can function in society.”
Fighting fire with love (not fire)
It’s easy to use violence against violence, that’s the norm and that’s exactly how law enforcement works in America. But it is far more difficult to use compassion and love to de-escalate a violent situation as this extremely brave teacher did.
It really makes you wonder: what else in our lives and in our society could we de-escalate with compassion instead of violence?
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