- Aug 27, 2009
When Michael Jackson sings "He will be there".. he really IS...
23 years ago on January 17, 1989, the Stockton Police Department received a threat against Cleveland Elementary School from an unknown person. Later that day, Patrick Purdy, who was later determined to be mentally ill, opened fire on the school's playground with a semi-automatic rifle, killing five children, all Cambodian or Vietnamese refugees, and wounding 29 others, and a teacher, before taking his own life. The event received national news coverage and is sometimes referred to as the Cleveland School massacre.
Then Mayor Barbara Fass' subsequent work on gun control received national attention and sparked nationwide efforts that sought to ban semi-automatic military-style rifles like the one used in the shooting. Patrick Edward Purdy, a 27-year-old alcoholic with a gun fetish, had picked that day to return to Cleveland, his old school. He carried an AK-47 and enough ammunition clips to kill anyone he saw. When Lori Mackey, who taught hearing-impaired students at Cleveland, looked out her classroom window, Purdy was holding his rifle at his waist, spraying the playground with bullets.
"I will never forget the look on his face to the day I die,'' Mackey said. "It wasn't anger. He wasn't sad. There was just no emotion.''
But eventually we get caught up in the next news cycle, the next scandal or tragedy. We move on.
"It is something that changes you forever,'' Mackey said, "and in ways you maybe can't explain. It takes away your blind faith. I know this: No one can tell me anymore that nothing is going to happen, that everything will be fine.'' But those who were there can never move on. Not completely.
Officials would later estimate that Purdy unleashed as many as 100 rounds in two minutes on Jan. 17, 1989. When the gunfire stopped, four girls and a boy, ranging in age from 6 to 9, were dead. Twenty-nine students and a teacher lay injured. Purdy waited until he heard police sirens, then turned the gun on himself and put a bullet in his head.
On February 7, 1989 Michael Jackson paid a visit to Cleveland Elementary School to see the children and families affected by this tragedy. Michael had just returned from his Bad World Tour. He arrived at the school to comfort the surviving children by giving them confidence to view the world more positively after such a traumatic experience. Patrick Purdy may have destroyed many lives that day, but Michael Jackson's presence helped bring more attention and compassion to the victims than anybody else on planet Earth could have done in a hundred years. Elizabeth Pha said of he memories back then was that she was playing tag with her friends when the horror began. She said she knew all the children who died that day, and she saw Rathanar Or fall right in front of her. She ran inside. A teacher told her to get under a desk.
"Jesus, Jesus, please help, please make the guns stop, please," she prayed. The shooting stopped. Nightmares ruled her sleep in the weeks that followed. But she said the glimpse she got of Michael Jackson when he visited Stockton a few weeks after the shootings was "soothing."
To read more and to see all the videos about "Remembering The Tragedy"...
A Dedication to the Cleveland School Massacre
The Blog Article:
Victims recall Michael Jackson visit after shootings..
By Roger Phillips
Record Staff Writer
January 18, 2009 12:00 AM
Weeks after he was wounded in the Cleveland Elementary School shootings, 6-year-old Rob Young and his family received a call from a caseworker with the San Joaquin County district attorney’s victim/witness assistance office that a celebrity was coming to Stockton to visit children and families.
“They didn’t tell us who it was,” Young said. “We thought it was going to be the president.”
In fact, it was pop singer Michael Jackson, just back from a world tour and at the height of his celebrity. Jackson had heard about the tragedy and, on Feb. 7, 1989, he came to town to try to boost spirits.
Deputy Police Chief Lucian Neely went to meet Jackson as his limousine arrived in Stockton. Neely decided to have Jackson ride in his car. That way, when the limousine arrived at Cleveland, the expected mob would be distracted and Neely could bring the King of Pop into the school in relative peace.
When Jackson got in the car, he told Neely there was one thing he needed to do before going to Cleveland.
“I have to use the restroom first,” he said.So Neely brought Jackson by a firehouse on March Lane.
“Hey, Michael Jackson would like to come in and use your restroom,” Neely asked the firemen. “Can he do that?”
Wearing a dark blue military-style uniform, Jackson visited every classroom at Cleveland that day, stopped by Central Methodist Church to meet wounded children not yet ready to return to school and sat with two more children still recovering at San Joaquin General Hospital. Jackson gave all the children videotapes and T-shirts.
“His presence made me feel like, ‘Oh, wow, the world is safe, and it is possible to dream, and there is hope after all,’ ” said Elizabeth Pha, 27, who as an adult is pursuing her own career as a singing star.
In a recent interview with former Record reporter Dianne Barth, Cleveland Principal Pat Busher said, “(Jackson’s) motivations were heartfelt. … It was to help children. And that event did a lot of good for the children.”
Michael Jackson Remembered Fondly for 1989 Stockton Visit:
The Stockton Tribute held for Michael Jackson (070709)
The NEWS10 Website:
Stockton Cop Remembers Jackson Visit..
STOCKTON, CA - As a sergeant in the homicide division of Stockton police, it was not a typical assignment for Mel Greer.
"My assignment that day was to get him (Michael Jackson) in as quietly as possible. It was made very clear it was to be low-profile," said Greer.
He's retired now, but Greer clearly remembers Michael Jackson's visit to Stockton 20 years ago to comfort the survivors of the Cleveland School shooting.
"It was good for the kids, because everyone - school officials, police and fire - our primary concern was the children," said Greer.
But getting Jackson in and around Stockton without fanfare was a lot easier said than done.
"We could see cars in front and cars as they pass, they'd look and it was like they were saying 'oh my God, is that who I think it is?' Then their expression would change, like, 'no it can't be,'" Greer remembered.
At Cleveland School, a huge crowd had gathered anticipating Jackson's visit. Greer and other cops had a plan.
"We had the limo show up on one side of the school, which attracted most the people. Then in one of our detective units, drove him to the back, let him out and escorted him into the school," said Greer.
When Jackson finally met with kids at Cleveland, who'd seen so much tragedy just a few weeks before, Greer was impressed.
"Very nice guy, and quiet and unassuming. He spoke to them (children) on their level, not above them," said Greer.
The Stockton Archives and History:
Some of the most celebrated Movies and television shows were either filmed or produced in Stockton.
In the 1960s Western TV series "The Big Valley" was set just outside Stockton.
In 1967 - Cool Hand Luke
In 1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
In 1989 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
In 2008-Present - Sons of Anarchy ( FX T.V.) is set in and outside of Stockton.
Stockton has had a reputation for high crime rates relative to other cities in the region. The city has made efforts to reduce this rate, including improvements to public venues, using a "broken windows" strategy of linking city repairs to reduced rates, as modeled in Los Angeles.
In 2009, Forbes magazine reported Stockton to be on their list of the nation's most dangerous cities, at number five. According to the San Joaquin County district attorney, the city of Stockton has the "second most violent crime rate in the state," while San Joaquin County is the fifth-most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States, which could be alluded to Stockton's proximity to Interstate 5 in the center of California, making it "a hub for thedrug cartel between Mexico, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia."
Stockton received an All-America City award from the National Civic League twice, in 1999 and 2004. 2004's award was based on a 60-member delegation's presentation titled "The Dream Lives On!", and featured three community-driven projects: Community Partnership for Families, Downtown Alliance, and the Peace Keeper Program. The 1999 award recognized the Apollo Night Talent and Performing Series, the conversion of the Stockton Developmental Center into an off-campus center for the California State University at Stanislaus, and the LEAP (Let Education Attack Pollution) program.
Sunset magazine named Stockton Best Tree City in the western United States in March 2002, and "Best of the West Food Fest" in March 2000.
Stockton contains 49 city, state, and national historical landmarks, dating as far back as 1855.
The Photo Gallery:
“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
(Mark 10:13-16 ESV)
:heart:R.I.P Little :angel: Angels :heart: