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austingirl

The School Shooting Austin Forgot

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This month's Texas Monthly has a fascinating article on a shooting that happened at Murchison Middle School in 1978. A student walked into the classroom, shot his teacher, and left. The shooter was the son of LBJ's former press secretary. He spent a few years at an inpatient rehab facility in Dallas, then went to law school at UT and still lives in Austin. I've lived here 21 years and have a student at Murchison and have never heard of this. Great read if you have a few minutes. 

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23 minutes ago, Huckleberry said:

@Armybrat was closely connected to that shooting somehow, I believe.

One of my nephews was in the classroom next to that one. Bet a Dollar to a donut one of our Surly lawyers knows the guy.

My Jr. High went on a “lockdown”..... that’s before the term was in vogue. Teachers were assigned to the various locked entrances during our off periods to monitor them. Luckily we had no portable classrooms at that school back then.

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APD officer Ralph Alblanedo was gunned down by a drug dealer over by Travis High school that same day. 

The drug dealer got the needle in Huntsville and the Murchison shooter got a UT Law degree and a bar card.  Roy Minton FTW, baby!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, austingirl said:

The shooter was the son of LBJ's former press secretary. He spent a few years at an inpatient rehab facility in Dallas, then went to law school at UT and still lives in Austin.

he was admitted to UT law?  after shooting and killing his teacher in middle school?  in austin?  what?

Edited by futureman
ah, son of LBJ's former press secretary. may have had something to do with it.

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34 minutes ago, Armybrat said:

One of my nephews was in the classroom next to that one. Bet a Dollar to a donut one of our Surly lawyers knows the guy.

My Jr. High went on a “lockdown”..... that’s before the term was in vogue. Teachers were assigned to the various locked entrances during our off periods to monitor them. Luckily we had no portable classrooms at that school back then.

I don't know know him.  He was in a church youth group (and high school) a couple of years ahead of me.  Not many seemed to know his past or it wasn't talked about at any rate.  I knew of him as a very quiet, soft-spoken guy.

While he was "connected" in many ways and received a lot of good treatment (both from the system and psychologists), I consider his case to be a triumph of the juvenile justice system.

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That was a well-written article.   I like that they followed several of the students and the widow, but I hope the teacher’s son came out alright.  

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he was admitted to UT law?  after shooting and killing his teacher in middle school?  in austin?  what?


They explain in the article but the gist (as I understand it) is that he didn't have to disclose his past criminal activity because he was a juvenile when it happened. And his family was able to keep it out of the news for the most part so it wasn't a case where everyone knew about it and would recognize his name several years later.


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Posted (edited)

The shooter went on to become an attorney with Ryan LLC. Sorry if you were looking for redemption there.

The teacher's son himself became a teacher as I recall.  Sadly I believe he left Austin High under dubious circumstances. Please correct me if you know otherwise. 

Edited by Degenerate Gardner

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There was some guy, a doctor type, at the old site that strenuously maintained that if violent, the mentally ill would remain so for their lifetime, even if a juvenile.

First, I don't think we know enough about the mind to conclude anything so absolutely.

And, Christian has led a productive, non-violent life for 41 years after the crime.  More than three times his age at the time.

I knew most of the story, but didn't know that he was at Timberlawn, so I'm not sure he received super top-notch care.  Currently, at least, Timberlawn is kind of a dump and more resembles the asylums that we shut down than a state-of-the-art mental health facility.

This may be a special case or an aberration, but I think it is incumbent on us as a society to attempt more sincere rehabilitative efforts, especially with juveniles.

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1 hour ago, austingirl said:

This month's Texas Monthly has a fascinating article on a shooting that happened at Murchison Middle School in 1978. A student walked into the classroom, shot his teacher, and left. The shooter was the son of LBJ's former press secretary. He spent a few years at an inpatient rehab facility in Dallas, then went to law school at UT and still lives in Austin. I've lived here 21 years and have a student at Murchison and have never heard of this. Great read if you have a few minutes. 

I thought this was going to be about the Murchison kids who killed the high school kid last year. As far as this story, if he indeed killed the teacher, I wish only the worst for him and don't give a fuck that he was able to turn his life around.

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29 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

I consider his case to be a triumph of the juvenile justice system.

really?  not trying to be a dick, but simply because he did well in school and hasn't killed anyone else since he was in middle school doesn't really seem like a "triumph" to me.  I only skimmed that article but I did see the teacher's son was around the same age as john christian.  I can't imagine seeing the kid who killed my dad walking around UT campus and possibly having class with me less than five years after pulling the trigger.  none of seems right to me.  but then I've just read the story and am having an emotional response to it. 

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8 minutes ago, futureman said:

really?  not trying to be a dick, but simply because he did well in school and hasn't killed anyone else since he was in middle school doesn't really seem like a "triumph" to me.  I only skimmed that article but I did see the teacher's son was around the same age as john christian.  I can't imagine seeing the kid who killed my dad walking around UT campus and possibly having class with me less than five years after pulling the trigger.  none of seems right to me.  but then I've just read the story and am having an emotional response to it. 

The juvenile justice system assumes that juveniles are not wholly responsible for their crimes because they are not fully developed.  This is not a controversial notion.  It also assumes or provides that records of juvenile proceedings are sealed so that they don't follow a kid around the rest of his life, recognizing that collateral effects are often worse than any actual punishment.

Glad you acknowledge having an emotional reaction.  That's fair.

But, I have intuited what this professor says in the article:

Quote

Yet for the witnesses of the Murchison shooting, their longing for justice has little to do with the length of John’s sentence—and, indeed, many would agree that more juvenile offenders should be treated as John was, rather than the other way around.

As University of Texas professor Marilyn Armour, the founder of the Institute of Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue, told me, “There are some people who believe that the amount of time served, the severity of the punishment, will bring some measure of closure or satisfaction. According to the research I’ve done, that’s not what happens at all.”

Vengeance isn't healthy.

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33 minutes ago, Pato del Muerto said:

I predict a noticeable drop in school shootings for the months of march, April and May of this year. 

I suspect they’ll go up.  But the body count will be much lower.  A lot of future Menendezes out there

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There was some guy, a doctor type, at the old site that strenuously maintained that if violent, the mentally ill would remain so for their lifetime, even if a juvenile.
First, I don't think we know enough about the mind to conclude anything so absolutely.
And, Christian has led a productive, non-violent life for 41 years after the crime.  More than three times his age at the time.
I knew most of the story, but didn't know that he was at Timberlawn, so I'm not sure he received super top-notch care.  Currently, at least, Timberlawn is kind of a dump and more resembles the asylums that we shut down than a state-of-the-art mental health facility.
This may be a special case or an aberration, but I think it is incumbent on us as a society to attempt more sincere rehabilitative efforts, especially with juveniles.


The article says that Timberlawn closed - are you referring to another place?


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17 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

The juvenile justice system assumes that juveniles are not wholly responsible for their crimes because they are not fully developed.  This is not a controversial notion.  It also assumes or provides that records of juvenile proceedings are sealed so that they don't follow a kid around the rest of his life, recognizing that collateral effects are often worse than any actual punishment.

Glad you acknowledge having an emotional reaction.  That's fair.

But, I have intuited what this professor says in the article:

Vengeance isn't healthy.

Neither is being shot.

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1 hour ago, TwiceHorn said:

I consider his case to be a triumph of the juvenile justice system.

It just really sucks that those triumphs only seem to happen to politically-connected rich white kids.

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6 minutes ago, austingirl said:

 


The article says that Timberlawn closed - are you referring to another place?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

I saw that.  It probably closed because it was a dump.  I see that it lost its license.  AFAIK, it has been more or less a dump since the 90s.

The article says it was state of the art in 1978.  I have my doubts.

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Odd that he decided to come back to Austin not only for school but for a career.  Seems that if he wanted to start a new life he'd want to get about as far away from the place where someone would surely know him and his past.

Then again, it's also odd he shot a teacher, so no telling what he was thinking.

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8 minutes ago, Not a cat said:

Odd that he decided to come back to Austin not only for school but for a career.  Seems that if he wanted to start a new life he'd want to get about as far away from the place where someone would surely know him and his past.

Then again, it's also odd he shot a teacher, so no telling what he was thinking.

the couple of times the article discussed him walking up to classmates later makes me think he wanted to try to reconcile somehow.  he was very fortunate to have the connections and the support structure he had.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, TwiceHorn said:

The juvenile justice system assumes that juveniles are not wholly responsible for their crimes because they are not fully developed.  This is not a controversial notion.  It also assumes or provides that records of juvenile proceedings are sealed so that they don't follow a kid around the rest of his life, recognizing that collateral effects are often worse than any actual punishment.

Glad you acknowledge having an emotional reaction.  That's fair.

But, I have intuited what this professor says in the article:

Vengeance isn't healthy.

Murder shouldn’t be concealed regardless of age. Tough shit if that happens to follow him the rest of his life, as it should. 
 

Banging chicks and crushing beers a couple years after putting your dad in the ground?
Not sure how the son didn’t murder him back. - Ron White. 


Vengance isn’t healthy but when the system fails to hold someone properly accountable it becomes the only option for some individuals. 
 

Dude stole someone’s life, skipped the rest of high school, then went to college and law school like it never happened. 

Edited by ChickenSandwich

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Yeah vengeance isn’t healthy. But if someone murders someone do we just say “oh well, that’s life” and not do anything about it? Punishment has to be there to at least be some deterrent to crime. Louis CK’s bit about the law against murder being the #1 thing preventing murder comes to mind.

 

 

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13 hours ago, futureman said:

I only skimmed that article but I did see the teacher's son was around the same age as john christian.  I can't imagine seeing the kid who killed my dad walking around UT campus and possibly having class with me less than five years after pulling the trigger. 

I believe the teacher's son was less than a year old when his dad was murdered.  

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10 minutes ago, Native Horn said:

I believe the teacher's son was less than a year old when his dad was murdered.  

you're correct.  I just skimmed the article the first time and didn't read too carefully, just missed it.

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There are members of state bars around the country that have committed murder and rejoined (or initially joined) the bar after having served their time. It's obviously not terribly common, but it's not unheard of either.  In this case I guess you can argue that the guy didn't face much of a punishment, and therefore didn't really serve his time, but such is the nature of the juvenile system.

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18 hours ago, Beau Vine said:

It just really sucks that those triumphs only seem to happen to politically-connected rich white kids.

Unfortunately rehabilitation is greatly affected by one's support system.

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So, affluenza for rich whites has actually been around since the 70s. Who am I kidding, it has always existed in the justice system.

We presume he hasn't killed anybody since this shooting. It's quite possible he has not been caught.

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The story was well reported on TV and in the paper for those of us adults in Austin at the time.  The crime of this is the unevenness of justice for Christian and young people of color (or poor whites) of the same age who paid much more severely for lesser or the same crimes.  Tried "as an adult."  Texas and America still shows no shame over the way the system has been stacked for wealth and white privilege.  Maybe Christian was treated right.  But we KKK'd a lot of other youth.

 

Free Lee Otis. (not a juvenile)

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1 hour ago, pacman said:

So, affluenza for rich whites has actually been around since the 70s. Who am I kidding, it has always existed in the justice system.

We presume he hasn't killed anybody since this shooting. It's quite possible he has not been caught.

Oh for fuck's sake.

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18 hours ago, Helobious said:

Yeah vengeance isn’t healthy. But if someone murders someone do we just say “oh well, that’s life” and not do anything about it? Punishment has to be there to at least be some deterrent to crime. Louis CK’s bit about the law against murder being the #1 thing preventing murder comes to mind.

 

 

CRIMINAL PUNISHMENTS HAVE NO DETERRENT EFFECT!

This is your vengeful mind fucking with you.

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1 hour ago, TwiceHorn said:

CRIMINAL PUNISHMENTS HAVE NO DETERRENT EFFECT!

This is your vengeful mind fucking with you.

No one has ever thought “I shouldn’t do this because I’ll get in trouble if I get caught”? Just because it doesn’t deter the people that still do the crime doesn’t mean that a larger number of people aren’t deterred. 

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7 minutes ago, Helobious said:

No one has ever thought “I shouldn’t do this because I’ll get in trouble if I get caught”? Just because it doesn’t deter the people that still do the crime doesn’t mean that a larger number of people aren’t deterred. 

In trouble, yes.  Because it's illegal and immoral.  No one thinks, "oh, I'll get life, or death, or 20 years, or how bout that white kid from Austin, maybe I'll get two years in the booby hatch."

That assumes rational people.  Typically, rational people don't commit murder.

Similarly, I virtually guarantee you no potential murderer ever said, well, I might get in trouble if I kill this fucker, but WAIT!  There was that kid, 40 years ago, that didn't get in any public trouble, NOW HE"S A LAWYER!!! Fuck it, I'm gonna waste him."

Things being illegal deters rational, sane, intelligent people, not dumb, desperate, drug addled, and insane people.  The quantum of the sentence has no effect whatsoever.

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I don't know know him.  He was in a church youth group (and high school) a couple of years ahead of me.  Not many seemed to know his past or it wasn't talked about at any rate.  I knew of him as a very quiet, soft-spoken guy.
While he was "connected" in many ways and received a lot of good treatment (both from the system and psychologists), I consider his case to be a triumph of the juvenile justice system.
Your definition is different than some of the people here. Fucker should be locked up at the least or had a bullet put in his head. Sorry your buddy is a piece of shit.
I predict a noticeable drop in school shootings for the months of march, April and May of this year. 

More kids will have guns at school though.

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