GUIZERIX: The Blue Alert that put us on red alert

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

It might be the burden of information, with me constantly checking the news across the state and across the country, but lately, it’s felt like I can’t go anywhere without worrying about my safety and that of my family.

From grocery store parking lots to the playground at our favorite fast-food place, it seems as though we can’t go anywhere without keeping our eyes peeled for threats. It could be as small as a bigger child shoving past my toddler to get to the slide first, or as big as someone with a gun in a public place.

The more I see, the more fear is created.

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I think this is a burden many parents and grandparents feel today. What were once everyday tasks, like going to school or work, seem frightening now.

Such was evidenced in a video I watched on social media this weekend: a mother tearfully explained that she’s made a habit of taking her son’s picture before he goes to school every day. Instead of keeping the photos as a cute way to document his growth, she said she took the photos to make sure she knew without a doubt what he wore to school, in case an active shooter situation were to arise.

A glimpse of that fear became real life last week when the whole state’s cell phones lit up with a Blue Alert saying a suspected cop shooter was last seen “in the area of South and Isaac streets” with no city name mentioned.

The incident happened in Bolivar County, more than 100 miles from Vicksburg, but the lack of a town name mentioned in the initial alert coupled with the fact that our city has a South Street was enough to incite worry. There is no Isaac Street in Vicksburg, so thankfully we were able to piece together that this wasn’t a local issue.

But sure enough, it wasn’t long before I got word from my child’s preschool that the students were safe. At least two other local schools I know of entered into lockdown before the panic subsided.

I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when it was confirmed by authorities that the suspect was not, in fact, in Warren County.

Still, it took a moment for my heart rate to return to normal.