This past weekend, the nation was once again stunned and horrified by two incidents of mass murder, each apparently perpetrated by lone gunmen. These two separate acts of terror – one at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, the other in a downtown neighborhood in Dayton, Ohio – together resulted in the deaths of at least 33 women, men, and children, and left another 50 injured, some of them critically.
Each of these incidents, following as they have on the heels of yet another mass shooting in Gilroy, California on July 28th, involved extreme violence perpetrated upon unsuspecting people going about their daily lives – in what each of us should expect would be safe, public spaces. Yet as we are all painfully aware, these are just the latest in a long and deadly string of mass shooting incidents in the United States. And yesterday, we learned that among the dead in the El Paso mass murder is the wife of Provost González’ cousin, Gloria Irma Márquez – demonstrating once again that these incidents do affect people with whom we have direct connections.
Law enforcement authorities have now confirmed that at least two of the incidents referenced above appear to be racially-motivated hate crimes, as evidenced by online documents and postings allegedly created by the perpetrators. These are assaults not only upon the individual victims or the communities where they took place, but also on the principles and basic human rights upon which our nation was founded.
Incidents such as this call for a renewed commitment to doing what is necessary to end hate-filled violence. We join with others here in Spokane and across the nation in mourning the tragic loss of life caused by these savage acts. As a Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic university we are committed daily to the work of ending discrimination, injustice and hate, and supporting those who labor in service to this cause. I believe all people of goodwill are united in their belief that every human being has the right to live in an environment that is free of violence – and free of the fear that hatred-fueled violence could result in the unimaginable loss of their child, their spouse, their parent or friend.
I ask that the Gonzaga Community please join with me in remembering all those affected by these terrifying incidents of mass murder; and I ask that you please include Provost González’ extended family in your thoughts and prayers. Let us also remember to express gratitude for those in law enforcement who work daily to make our communities safe, and the other first responders and medical personnel who serve so selflessly to aid those who have been injured and impacted in incidents such as these.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President
August 6, 2019