I knew something big was happening when 3 police cars raced past me. I had a call from the KMOV Newsroom and quickly learned that there had been a mass shooting inside the Kirkwood City Council Hall.
For a short time I debated going immediately to the scene, but I was requested at the station to anchor coverage with my co-anchor, Vicki Newton.
As the story unfolded, we were careful with what information we reported and when. The next day, it continued to dominate local news and was reported repeatedly on network newscasts.
Now, we know the entire story ... how a gunman shot and killed 2 police officers, a Kirkwood city official and 2 Kirkwood city council members, and at the time of this writing ... leaving the Kirkwood Mayor in critical condition.
The next night, anchoring live just across the street from City Hall ... I was approached by several who voiced their grief and shock. Some asked a question that I often hear following such tragedy: Don't you get tired of reporting these kinds of stories?
My answer: Yes.
I could not begin to count the human tragedies I've reported since my first job in broadcasting in 1963.
I do want to say that the stories had to be reported. Granted, some viewers thought some stories got more attention than they should, and sometimes viewers didn't like how they were reported.
But again, to answer that question: Yes, I'm tired of these stories.
I'm tired of having to report stories of innocent victims gunned down, run down, bombed, tortured, slaughtered .... and on .. and on .. and on ...
I'm especially tired of reporting horrifying crimes against children ... and especially, when the abuser or killer .... is a child's parent.
I'm tired of reporting stories where a father decides to kill his whole family ... or a child decides to kill his mother and father.
The list of these stories is long .. and always growing longer.
Some think the simple solution is .. don't report them. That doesn't make them go away or cease to exist.
Still, for me ... after 4 decades in this business ... the stories are not any easier to report.
When my daughters were young, on one hand ... I wanted them to watch me on the news ... but on the other hand ... when such tragedies dominated the news .. I was hoping they were not watching. If they were .. I hoped my wife was able to sit with them and answer any questions they had.
Believe me, children often have questions about such tragedies; they might not ever express those questions ... or do so much, much later.
I remember one time my youngest came to me and asked: Dad, why would a father hold a cigarette on his baby?
I had reported that story several days before, and all those days, long after it had ceased to be a big story ... long after I had mentally filed in the background with hundreds, thousands of similiar stories ... it still haunted my child.
I did my best to explain, but the truth is .. I couldn't understand it.
The Kirkwood massacre will not be forgotten, but in time, for those outside that community, it will pale .. and the sad, sad fact is ... there will be other such stories.
I will continue to do my best to professionally report these stories, but there will come a day when I no longer have this position and will be done telling these stories.
Until then, yes, I am tired of having to report them.