Gun Violence Continues

On Monday August 28, 2023 just after 1 pm, my husband got a notice on his phone from Alert Carolina: armed and dangerous person on campus. Shelter in place. We are a few miles from the University of North Carolina campus, but there was no information about where the armed and dangerous person would be next or whether there was only one. We kept checking updates at and WRAL News as this situation evolved. When he wanted to go buy kitty litter at our local Harris Teeter, I questioned his safety. As we’re a long way from campus, he reassured me and got the errand done quickly and safely.

The campus was on lock down as were the local schools. It was the first day of classes for those in K-12. I felt sad for the youngest kids who started school for the first time into such a scary day.

I watched online as students streamed across campus, crying and clutching each other as they sought shelter. It was the second week of classes. Many of the new students didn’t know where Caudill Lab, where the shooting happened, was in relation to the building they were in. No one knew until much later who the shooter targeted. It could have been a mass shooting. They could be shot next. Everyone was scared. I wasn’t on campus but I too was scared.

They apprehended the shooting suspect around 2:30 pm. WRAL had video showing the police taking him into custody in handcuffs. It took three hours for the police to determine it was safe to lift the lock down at 4:14 pm. Police investigations take time. They searched Caudill Lab in the center of campus and brought in trained dogs to aid in their vain attempt to locate the gun whose shots left a hole in the glass window.

Finally news reports disclosed that a professor, Zijie Yan, had been shot and killed by the graduate student he advised, Tailei Qi. Why remains unknown. Qi is in jail charged with first degree murder and having a gun on education property. Qi apparently shot Dr. Yan then left campus on foot, making his way to Williams Circle, near my old neighborhood, where he was arrested.

Two days later the Daily Tar Heel posted a cover showing the many text messages among the students, full of fear. It captured the student experience brilliantly and went viral.

While all this was going on, I was reading a proof copy of my second novel, Gun Guy, my attempt to address the problem of gun violence through fiction. My story describes another school shooting. It began with my thoughts about what it would take to get sensible gun laws in this country. What if someone high up in the National Rifle Association lost a loved one to gun violence? And Gun Guy was born. I read through this proof copy to locate any errors, a necessary step in self-publishing. Doing so while yet another shooting was taking place in my own town felt surreal.

I invite you to read Gun Guy, available on in paperback and ebook formats. It was challenging and meaningful to write. Here’s the description.

Guy Grant devotes his entire life to the NRA. But after a horrific personal tragedy involving gun violence, he is left grief-stricken and questioning everything he once believed in. Teenager Sam Schuyler suffers with depression after his father leaves the family, causing him to spiral into an endless cycle of shame after he discovers he could have prevented the loss of lives in a local mass shooting. As Guy and Sam struggle with guilt and grief, their lives come together, forever changed.

Gun Guy presents a fictional solution to the problem of gun violence. I wish it were true. Read it and find something to do to help make it true.

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