Strozier Shooting One Year Anniversary: We Are Still #FSUnited

Courtesy: Shannon Hickie

On this day one year ago, an unimaginable reality made its way onto our campus. On November 20, 2014, FSU alum Myron May walked into Strozier library and fired a .380 semi-automatic handgun at a Strozier employee, and then walked outside and fired shots at two students. Fortunately, they all survived.

Thanks to the security measures in place at Strozier Library as well as the timely and effective efforts of the police, May was prevented from causing further harm. After quickly making their way to Strozier, the FSUPD surrounded May outside of the library. He refused to surrender, which resulted in May being shot and killed by the police.

“I never considered a shooting happening here,” said sophomore Colton Boney, who happened to be studying on the first floor of Strozier that night. The incident made him realize that college campuses are “fairly easy targets for something like a shooting.” Along with this realization, the lasting effect of the Strozier shooting for Colton has been paranoia. “When I’m walking around campus I find myself scanning people all the time,” he said. 

Students who weren’t at Strozier Library that night were just as influenced by the shooting as those who were. Senior Deni Kolev remembers hearing the emergency sirens going off all around campus as she was getting ready to go to sleep. “All my roommates and I got up and we were so confused because nothing looked unusual outside so we went on Facebook and Twitter to see what people were saying," said Kolev. "Then I saw a tweet that said, ‘There’s a gunman in Strozier.'” 

In the first few months following the shooting, Kolev said it took a while to feel comfortable enough to go back to Strozier to study. “It really felt like my safety had been compromised. No one ever imagines feeling unsafe where they feel most at home.”

Senior Andy Applewhite notes that for him the shooting confirmed the security of FSU. He had been working on a paper on the second floor of the library that night when he saw fellow students start running. “I had been wearing headphones so I didn’t hear the shooter’s gunshots.” Once he saw students with horrified looks on their faces jumping over tables, he knew something was up. 

Applewhite and six other students hid in the handicap stall of the men’s bathroom and came up with a plan. “If the police came and knocked on the door, we were going to ask for their badge number, Google it to make sure it was real and if it was real then we’d come out of the bathroom. I mean, we had no idea what was happening. We didn’t know if there could have been multiple shooters.” They ended up not having to initiate their well thought-out plan because the police began giving updates over the library intercom and instructed students to walk down the staircases with their hands above their heads. Applewhite recalls, “Police officers dressed in SWAT gear were lining the stairs.”

When asked if the shooting has had a lasting impact on him, Applewhite immediately replied, “Guns. I never had an opinion on guns, and now I hate them. Today on a college campus, one person with a gun can cause an event like the shooting.”

In addition to gun control, the shooting also brings up another very important topic: treating mental health disorders. The type of person May was before he became known as "the gunman" does not seem tro reflect the evil actions of his final moments. He was a successful lawyer in a serious relationship and known for his bow ties and great character. In the months leading up to the shooting, he had been showing changes in his personality and grew more and more paranoid that people were watching him. His girlfriend encouraged him to talk to a therapist, who ended up not giving him the proper treatment he needed. May showed signs of paranoid schizophrenia, but was treated for ADHD. A man known for wanting to help people was taken over by this disorder, leading him to completely act out of character.

The FSU community showed their strength in the days following the shooting. The hashtag #FSUnited was used to show support all over social media. Freshman Alexis Paltzer says that following the hashtag on Instagram allowed her and the people at her then high school to keep up-to-date with what was going on. Flyers with the #FSUnited hashtag were printed out and distributed all over campus. Students came together on Landis Green the morning after the shooting to hold hands and sing the war chant. Later that day, a candlelight vigil was held at the Integration Statue. The school came together to thank the police department and held a moment of silence for those who had been shot.

“When something like this happens, it reminds you we’re all brothers and sisters,” said Applewhite. A year has gone by since the night fear struck the hearts of the FSU family, but Seminoles all around the world came together to show love and support for each other, and will continue to stand together no matter what. The Noles will be #FSUnited - forever.