Broken to her by a text from her dad, sophomore Nicole Plante discovered the news of Texas’ worst mass shooting in history, occurred less than an hour from her home in San Antonio.
Residents of the city were some of the first to hear of the Sutherland Springs church shooting that left 26 dead and 20 wounded.
Plante is not the only student from Texas at Elon. According to the Office of the Registrar’s 2017 Fall Report, there are 80 students from the state.
After recieving the news Plante immediately texted her mother. With no immediate reply, her panic rose. Despite knowing that the odds her mother was at the same church was almost impossible, Plante couldn’t help but worry.
“You hear of shootings happening all the time nowadays, and it’s tragic, but there’s something so different about it happening close to your home,” Plante said. “I called her multiple times and broke down because she wasn’t answering.”
Though Plante was safe and far from home, the distance really added to her already high anxiety
“It’s really hard being far away because I don’t know if anyone I know is there,” Plante said. “I can’t be there to support my community, and my family that is there dealing with the tragedy.”
Elon is also the home to the First Baptist Church of Elon, which is less than five minutes from campus.
David Durham, an associate pastor for the church was in shock after hearing about the shooting.
“We need to recognize that we are all connected, that we were all created by God. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ and because of that we grieve — we pray,” Durham said. “It’s not a one-time prayer it’s an ongoing prayer. An ongoing prayer for healing within their community, for families of the victims, for our nation and for the world.”
While thoughts and prayers from across the country have been pouring into Texas since the shooting, Jan Fuller, university chaplain, worries that this is not enough.
“I am all for thoughts and prayers. My heart has been breaking for the people close to the situation, and I do want to support them,” Fuller said. “But I also worry that they will sound like empty words … because the ripples of impact go out. This week it’s Texas, but next week it is going to be a different state. And we can support those people, but eventually we have to do something about the epidemic that is upon us.”
Fuller does not believe that the site of the shooting makes the massacre any worse than the others the country has previously gone through.
“It isn’t any worse that it was in a church, that is plenty bad enough, but it has been in a nightclub, a concert, a movie theater and a school,” Fuller said.
For Plante the shooting will affect churchgoers both in Texas and around the country.
“Those people were at a church, trying to worship a God that they believed in, doing what they thought was right and all of that was disturbed,” Plante said. “For churchgoers, it might be hard to go back to church. You think of church as a safe place but now it’s not, nowhere is safe.”
Back at Elon, Plante urges students to realize that the community is not immune to what happens around the United States.
“I’ve been immune to the awful and tragic events that happen every day, but this one hit so close to home — it really showed me that I can’t be immune,” Plante said. “It showed me I need to care about all of them.”