22 years ago on today's date, January 17, a deranged man opened fire on Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, killing 5 children. Patrick Purdy, the lone gunman, pulled his station wagon into the back of the school, lit his car on fire, put earplugs in his ears, and sprayed at least 106 bullets into a schoolyard full of mostly kindergarten to third graders. The assault lasted 4 minutes, and when it was over, one teacher and 29 children were wounded, and 5 children were dead. Purdy then shot himself in the head with a pistol.
I have a family member who lived in Stockton at the time of the shootings. When asked, she said that there is no way to accurately describe the atmosphere in Stockon on that day. Every single elementary, middle and high school in the Stockton area was locked down for hours. Every single student who attended Stockton Unified School District was ordered to get under their desk, and stay there for over an hour. Parents were understandably terrified; most parents wanted to pull their children out of school. Yet, SUSD would not allow it for fear of any other type of shootings that might occur at another school site.
In the days after the shooting, kids were afraid to go to school. Likewise, parents were afraid to send their children to school. While Patrick Purdy was pegged as a loner with no affiliation to any group in particular, the fear in the air was still palpable. And although the Cleveland School shootings made the national news, Stockton saw no help from any entertainer who might provide relief. That is, until Michael Jackson came to Stockton.
A few weeks after the shootings, Diane Batres, head the of Victim Witness program in Stockton, received a phone call from MJJ Productions. At the time Batres did not associate MJJ Productions with Michael Jackson. After learning that Michael Jackson was interested in visiting the school and the surviving children, Batres and Jackson set up a day when Michael could visit the school.
"It was very kind of him to do this. He brought truckloads of gifts and held children in his arms. He was genuinely concerned and expressed his sorrow." Michael also distributed videotapes of his latest recordings to the children and staff at the school. One of the songs distributed was Man in the Mirror.
"One of the mothers called after the experience and said, 'I am so glad I saw that' because she realized for the first time that there were yellow tears, white tears, brown tears and black tears. Every tear was the same color. They all felt the same sadness."
The above picture was taken in Stockton while visiting Cleveland Elementary School. This is the Michael Jackson we all know and love. Like Martin Luther King, Michael Jackson had a dream, too.
Michael Jackson (3) Sunrise Colony (2) Sycamore Valley Ranch (2) William Bone (2) Al Malnik (1) Arnold Klein (1) Bruce Ayers (1) Charles Koppelman (1) Colony Capital (1) Conrad Murray (1) Dieter Wiesner (1) Eliza Jackson (1) Evan Chandler (1) John Branca (1) Jordan Chandler (1) Kingdom Entertainment (1) Los Olivos (1) MJJ Kingdom (1) Mark Schaffel (1) Modern Records (1) Neverland (1) Peter Lopez (1) Pine Grove Hospital (1) Randy Jackson (1) Randy and the Gypsys (1) Raymone Bain (1) Red Rock Country Club (1) Steveanna Jackson (1) Taunya Zilkie (1) Thomas Barrack (1) Tom Barrack (1)