Preston author caught up in campus shooting says USA is ‘not safe to live in’

Posted on - 13th May, 2019 - 7:06am | Author - | Posted in - People, Preston News
A.J. Hartley in front of Cold Bath Street sign
Cold Bath Street author A.J. Hartley

Preston-born author A.J. Hartley has written a scathing analysis on US gun crime after he was caught up in a campus shooting.


Hartley teaches at the University of North Carolina, where a shooting on 30 April left two students dead.

The suspect, 22-year-old former student Trystan Terrell, opened fire in a classroom with dozens of students, using a handgun he had legally purchased.

After word of the shooting reached Hartley he joined other faculty members in leading students to lockable dressing rooms.

In his blog Surviving a School Shooting, Cold Bath Street author Hartley said: “For the next hour, we quietly learned what we could from the school’s alert system (“Active Assailant: run, hide, fight” was the first) and from the live coverage which began to trickle in from the local news sources.”

According to Hartley the group sat still and quiet, listening out for gunfire and trying to determine how much danger they were in.

Read more: Cold Bath Street sequel to be released at Halloween

Hartley continued: “We texted our families and friends to let them know what was happening, that we were probably safe and, in case we weren’t, that we loved them.”

Hartley described feeling a strange sense of calm as he assessed his students to see which ones would be able to help in case the gunman were to “blast his way in”.

He said: “This curious serenity stayed with me long after we got the all-clear and were able to start heading out and home. At the time I thought that I was experiencing some need to be in control because I felt responsible for my students, but I knew it wasn’t bravery, and in hindsight I think it was something far less admirable. I was calm because, strange though our predicament was, it felt ordinary, normal. I watched my students studying the news on their phones and I knew why we were mostly quiet and collected through this most appalling of situations. We were experiencing something that happened every day all over the country. The only difference was that today it was our turn.”

Hartley went on to lambast the US for their approach to gun crime. He said: “What we lived through yesterday was the unspeakable banality of the United States where the indiscriminate dealing out of death is considered positively mundane…

“There’ll be the usual flare of outrage about the easy availability of firearms in this idiotic and deluded nation (countered with the NRA’s usual bullshit talking points) but nothing will change because it never does. You would think we’d learn from Columbine, Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook. But we don’t.”

In his closing words Hartley accuses the US of paranoid delusions and fetishising weapons.

As for what he thinks should happen to the nation’s guns, he said: “They should be taken and melted down, and this country should start over.

“Right now, it’s not safe to live in.”

An excerpt from A.J. Hartley's blog Surviving a School Shooting
An excerpt from A.J. Hartley’s blog Surviving a School Shooting

Read Hartley’s full blog on

What do you think about Hartley’s blog? Let us know in the comments below.

Preston in pictures Preston Graffiti390_016-18390_016-17390_011-04Preston, Lancashire.StreetPreston, Friargate.Transdev Rosso 79 220319 Preston View more Advertisement Subscribe to the newsletter

Sign up below to receive Blog Preston's weekly newsletter. It wings its way into inboxes every Sunday rounding up our best content from the last week and a look ahead to what's happening.

Advertisement News by location

Find news by location, select an area of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.

Advertisement Categories

Find news by category, select an category of your choice to be kept up to date with the latest goings on.