Woolsey Family Chronicles

Documenting the journey of raising triplets and their wild big sister

Tragedy February 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Hip Mothership @ 10:51 pm

I went into my Pilates class at 10am and by the time I got out at 11am all hell had broken loose.  I have this strange sixth sense habit of calling people right when calamity or crisis is taking place.  At 11am I called my mom on her cell phone just to check in and she told me that the principal of the elementary school in Placerville, just up the road from where I live now and the place I grew up, was shot and killed.  My mom had received an emergency bulletin at school announcing to administration of the tragedy.  

The janitor of the school walked into the principal’s office around 10:30 am and shot him in the abdomen.  The the janitor went home.  The principal was rushed to Marshall Hospital.   The poor students of the school were bussed out to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds to be picked up by their worried parents. 

The principal Sam LaCara’s wife had heard about the shooting and was speeding up Highway 50 to get to her husband.  She was pulled over by police for speeding, but when she explained why she was in such a hurry she got a police escort to the hospital. 

My mom says that Sam was a very nice man and the father of three girls, who now do not have a father.   

Tragedies happen every day, but this one happened so close to my home, and in my hometown.  It has affected me deeply. I cannot understand how there are monsters out there who are willing to commit such a horrible act.  Sam was a man with a very important and special job, working hard to make sure his elementary school is run well and that the kids at his school are handled with love, caring and fairness.  As principal, Sam was the mediator between staff and parents.  This is a hard job and one that should be honored and respected.  I know this because I watch what my mom does as principal, and how hard she works and how much she loves her school and “her” kids that attend the school. 

This shooting is a disgrace, and my heart goes out to Sam’s family, as well as those children who probably need grief counseling to heal them from the trauma of losing their beloved principal to a gun shooting at their own school, which is supposed to be a safe place. 

But to all the gun-lovers out there, do you really think our system of gun ownership is working?  Anybody can get a gun and anyone can enter a school and shoot the principal.  What is it going to take to fix our system and change the laws surrounding gun ownership? For example, as told to me by Chris, at thousands of gun shows every year, people are able to purchase firearms without going through a background check.  Under the federal Brady Act, Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) are required to check the purchaser’s background with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before transferring any firearm. 

 However, a person does not need a federal firearms license—and the Brady Act does not apply—if the person is not “engaged in the business” of selling firearms pursuant to federal law.  These non-licensees make up one-quarter or more of the sellers of firearms at gun shows.  Consequently, felons, the severely mentally ill and other prohibited persons who want to avoid Brady Act checks and records of their purchases are able to buy firearms at gun shows. 

Concurrent with the shooting yesterday, the Cameron Park community lost a wonderful mom and friend, Pietra Duffy, who fought courageously to the very end against lung cancer.  She faced her terminal disease with a smile on her face and maintained her warm and loving spirit in the midst of an enormous struggle for life.  She will be missed by so many, especially her husband and two children. 

Yesterday was a very sad day.  I hugged my babies and appreciated that they were healthy and safe and celebrated that they were in my life.  I met my wonderful neighbor friends at our neighborhood park for some cocktails and snacks while we watched the kids do what kids do in an expanse of grass; climb trees, chase each other and concoct plays.  That night we waited for Chris to come home from his business trip and then we were all together again.

In tragedy there is change and compassion and strength of the human spirit; our opportunity to rise above and come together and understand and appreciate life. I believe it is tragedy that creates the inspiration to affect change, whether it be something small like loving your family deeper, or bigger like trying to change our gun laws or raising money for cancer research. 

Until next time, the mothership is signing off.


One Response to “Tragedy”

  1. Heidi Smith Says:


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