I Was Almost A School Shooter | Aaron Stark | TEDxBoulder

I Was Almost A School Shooter | Aaron Stark | TEDxBoulder


Translator: Bob Prottas
Reviewer: Leonardo Silva I was almost a school shooter. In 1996, Denver, Colorado,
I was a student in North High. In a moment of pain and anger,
I almost committed a terrible atrocity. Growing up I’d learned early on there was a strange comfort
and calmness in darkness. I was always the new kid. My family was violent and aggressive,
drug-addicted parents. We were moving from place to place,
went to 30 or 40 different schools, always seemed to be going
to a new school every other week. You woke up at 4 o’clock
in the morning by cops, to run across the country to end up
at a school for a couple of weeks and then have to do it all again
a couple of days later. I was the perpetual new kid, and since I
also had such an unstable household, I wasn’t helped by the fact that I smelled
really bad because I never had a shower, or didn’t really have any clean clothes. All my clothes were dirty and torn. I liked comic books at a time
when kids didn’t really like people who liked comic books that much. So every time I went to a new school
I was in a new set of bullies. They’d walk up to me and shoot me
with a harpoon, like I was a whale, or dump food on my head
because they said I was too fat. But the bullying wasn’t just at school.
It happened at home a lot too. I was told that I was worthless
by just about everybody in my life. When you’re told you worthless enough
you will believe it, then you’re going to do everything
to make everybody else agree with it too. I wrapped that darkness around me
like a blanket, used it as a shield. It kept the few who agreed with me close,
but it kept everybody else away. I always had heard in life
that there was good and bad people. I must be one of the bad people. So I guess I’d have to just do
what I was supposed to do. So I got really aggressive. At 12 or 13-years-old
I got really into heavy metal music, and I was the mosh pit
when I went to concerts. The abuse just never seemed to stop. I got into cutting around 14 or 15 because I figured that there was all this
extreme emotion going on in my life I had absolutely no control over. I had to find some way
to find control over something so I took to cutting myself. I still have the scars to this day. At 15, 16 years old, I ended up homeless. My parents had kicked me out because I didn’t want to deal
with their drunken fighting, so I was living on the streets. I thought I had pushed
all my other friends away, shoved them all away
by lying to them or stealing from them, doing everything that my family
taught me how to react, which was the completely
wrong way how to react. But I had no idea.
I was just doing what I was taught. Finally, at 16 years old, I’m sitting
in my best friend’s shed, who I thought I’d already pushed away too
by stealing from him and lying to him. Lying in this shed
with the roof wide open, with rain pouring down on me
into a grungy chair that was covered in cobwebs and dirt
which hadn’t been touched in months. And I’m sitting there with my arm
covered in blood, knowing that if I didn’t do something
I was going to kill myself soon. So, I did the only thing
I could think of to do: I grabbed a phonebook,
and I called social services. So I went to social services. Sadly, they didn’t just bring me in there,
they also took my mom in there too, who happened to be one of the largest
sources of my pain growing up. Since she had spent her life
running from place to place and dealing with social workers
and police officers, she knew exactly what to say
to get them to believe that I was making it all up, it was just an act,
I was just doing it for attention. Then they sent me home with her. And as they sent me home with her,
she turned to me and she said: “Next time, you should do a better job
and I’ll buy you the razor blades.” My heart just got ripped out
of me at that point. The darkness I’d been staring at
for so long, I ran headlong into it. I had nothing left to live for. I literally had nothing to lose. And when you have nothing to lose
you can do anything, and that is a terrifying thought. I had decided that my act
of doing something was I was going to express
my extreme anger and rage by getting a gun. I was going to attack either my school
or a mall food court. It really didn’t matter which one. It wasn’t about the people,
it was about the largest amount of damage in the shortest amount of time
with the least amount of security. Both those places were the right targets. So I wish I had a better story
about actually getting a gun, but that was actually
brother-business-like. There were gangbanger kids
near my school back in the mid ’90s when gangs were still a major problem
in North Denver schools. This kid had seen me, he knew my family
and he’d sold drugs to them before. He knew that I wasn’t really in school,
I was just always at school. He knew I wasn’t a narc
or anything like that. I didn’t know anything but a first name.
That didn’t take more than that. I knew they had access to guns,
they talked about it all the time. I said: “Hey, can you get me a gun?”
“Sure, get me an ounce.” “All right, give me three days.” That was it. I was waiting to get myself a gun
so I could kill a lot of people. But thankfully
I wasn’t alone in that darkness. That best friend who had saved me
when I was sleeping in the shed, he saw this place that I was in. Even though I had stolen
from him and lied to him and taken his belongings
and ruined it all, he didn’t care, he still brought me in
and showed me acts of kindness. Just simple acts. It wasn’t the kind of overbearing
kindness where they say: “Is there anything I can do for you? can I do something to make you better? How can I help you?” It was just sitting down next to me. “Hey, would you like a meal?
Let’s watch a movie.” He treated it like it was a Tuesday.
He treated me like I was a person. When someone treats you like a person
when you don’t even feel like a human, it’ll change your entire world,
and it did to me. He stopped me with his acts of kindness
from committing that atrocity that day. If you see someone who’s in that spot
that needs that love, give it to them. Love the ones you feel
deserve it the least because they need it the most. It’ll help you just as much
as it helps them. We’re in a really dangerous spot now
with this trend of arming the teachers, looking out for the kids who might
be a threat in schools, and maybe turning them in to the FBI. What’s that going to do to a kid who’s
in the position I was 25 years ago? Who’s alone, and depressed, and abused, and is just sitting there hurting, and someone thinks that they’re a threat? He gets turned in to the FBI, and one month of pain
turns into a lifetime of legal trouble because one person thought
he was going to be a problem. Instead of looking at that kid
like he’s a threat, look at him like he might be a friend, like you might be able
to bring him into the fold. Show him that it’s just a Tuesday.
Show him that he is worth it. Show him that he can exist in this pain
even though it’s intense, that at the end of it, there is a light
at the end of the tunnel. I found my light. Now I’m a happy family man.
I am a father of four. My wife and my daughter
are in the audience today. (Applause) And even bigger than that, the friend who saved my life,
he’s in the audience today too. Because friendship
doesn’t ever really die. (Applause) We have to give love to the people
who we think deserve the least. Thank you. (Applause)

100 Replies to “I Was Almost A School Shooter | Aaron Stark | TEDxBoulder”

  1. My brother is going to have a high chance of dieng in 6 years and ive been feeling terrible and this really helped

  2. The fact that there are so much jokes in the comment show just how cruel some people can be. I’m praying for y’all and I hope you guys wake up soon because this is real life

  3. Monsters are made, I'm not very emotionally expressive, and people think I'm creepy or scary, I'm just in highschool and I hate it when people feel this way because it makes me feel like a bad person.

  4. I'm crying again Aaron. And it's a good cry. I did not go through what you went through but I'm many years beyond that. I was too scared to get a gun. I'm gonna keep watching because you're one of my heroes. Perhaps you understand me more than anyone else. If not, that's ok. I have a couple friends nearby. I don't want you to think you are all I have..because that would be terribly awful and inaccurate. My friends are great about hugs, and I am great about giving and receiving them. You are still the first and only person who I've seen has publicly admitted that they wanted to shoot up their school. I want more people to admit this.

    I think I get you, people. Confess to me. Or Aaron. Just don't kill people.

  5. I really liked this video until. We Need to identify threats in order to help them. It doesn't have to mean FBI and a life time in prison. There are programs, teams assembled to help kids like Aaron. Thankful he made it through this time in his life.

  6. I don't know how so much of society can simply not care about abused, struggling people. Like so many people who have had at least decent upbringings judge those who experienced pain growing up. It's almost like a 'collective psychopathy'. People know that there are others who are in deep pain and they a totally fine with it. They don't care. Again, the only suitable term I have for this is 'collective psychopathy'.

  7. Bless him, I was almost a school shooter (hence my profile) but support helped me through it, as it did for him and hopefully more lost people alont the way

  8. Its really sad how kids judge others and they don't even know their situation. I was bullied in school and I learned to make fun of myself so I would beat everyone else to the punch. Its a very lonely feeling. I'm so sorry you went through that. Its amazing that you are strong enough to speak about these things. You're a strong man. Thank you for informing others.

  9. Why dont these shooters go after the people actually hurting them.. Thats why i cant feel sorry for them they go for the innocent

  10. Came here after seeing Joker. My buddy keeps saying it wasn't really a Joker movie, more like the story of a school shooter. Seems like it.

  11. This is why you always help people. You never know what they are going through. It was very brave for him to speak about this heartbreaking time of his life. God bless him. At 6:44 I almost started crying because of the hurt in his voice.

  12. I feel like I’ve been living my whole life wrong. I’ve always been nice to others but I’ve never been like “nice” except once. I’m not sure how to explain it but there’s a new student who’s struggling socially. And he’s nice I’ve spoken to him a couple of times but today I found out he has to go to a therapist for suicidal thoughts. And I honestly instantly felt as if it was my fault.. I’ve never really had a full blown conversation and I feel horrible about it. I wanna change I’m going to change I’m going to talk to people even tho it’s scary for me to sometimes I wanna make someone feel like they aren’t alone.

  13. He had a terrible life, he thought that killing innocent people would make a difference, he is a terrible person. He didnt deserve what happened to him but the people he thought about killing dont deserve to die.

    No one else is concerned that he was going to kill people?

  14. So your telling me if someone buys a gun and says they are going to shoot up a school I should not call the fbi? Seems legit

  15. This is why why i love Tedx talks, no unrealistic or fake videos with emotional music just to make u cry or faking good things to get views or reactions etc… Just ppl standing there, telling us what's in their heads.

  16. I once had a situation when the quiet kid told me “I’m going to kill you” next day he said “I’m sorry for what I said” I feel that because his cousin always told him to not hang out with us and started spreading rumors to my friend (the quiet kid), and I just said” it’s fine nothing is going to happen, just don’t say those stuff again ok” and he was sent to the office because people heard him say I’m going to kill you. He is a smart dude and really kind it’s just that he gets out of control on stuff anybody have any ways so that I can deal with situations like this because I might hurt someone more if I don’t know what I do than if I just talk to him

  17. “When someone treats you like a person even when you don’t feel like a human…” I loved this whole thing so much 💙

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