Police were still trying to sort out what happened during Monday's tragic shooting at Trolley Square when someone first told me it was a "copycat" event, a disturbed individual emulating other shootings in other places.

I spent much of Tuesday thinking about the concept of copycats, especially as I listened to the moving and horrifying accounts provided by the family and friends of the shooting victims who are hospitalized, struggling to recover from life-threatening injuries.

I found much to emulate over the course of Monday's tragedy. But you have to choose to follow the example of the right people.

You could emulate Vickie Walker, who, faced with the murder of her husband, Jeffery, and the grievous wounding of son AJ, told her children their family won't be wrapped in hate and anger. They won't bear ill will, even toward the shooter. They will choose to forgive.

You could follow the example of Ogden officer Ken Hammond, who was in real danger as he engaged the gunman in a battle that kept him too busy to shoot others until more police arrived.

You could choose to be like Shawn Munns, still hospitalized with wounds he sustained. Down and seriously injured, he dragged his cell phone out and warned his family away, then struggled to reach the Hard Rock Cafe to warn all the diners inside so that they were kept safe.

You could emulate Debra Falvo from Valley Mental Health, who choked up herself as she asked for compassion and care for the gunman's family, who are unquestionably bereft.

You could choose to follow the example of shop owner Barrett Dodds, who directed the police to the shooter, while looking for something to throw at him to disarm him.

You could be like the neighbors who opened their homes and hearts to those who were stranded and dazed in the immediate aftermath of the dash from Trolley Square. They offered food and comfort and warmth and a kind, human touch in a world that seemed inexplicably vicious.

You could be one of the shopkeepers at Trolley who rushed people inside and helped them hide.

You could decide to be like the mall customers who paused in their panicked rush to leave the dangerous situation in order to warn others to get out, get out, get out.

You could copycat the neighbors and friends helping the families of the wounded and the dead as they grieve, offering prayers and comfort and courtesies like child care.

You could follow the example of the school administrators, teachers and friends who asked those families how they'd like them to respond to questions about the injured and dead, then honored those requests.

I hope, in a horrifying situation, I'd choose to "copycat" one of them. I can't say, for certain. But I know whom I don't want to copy.

I don't want to copy those who fired off anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim e-mails, using the shooter as "proof" that "illegals" and Muslims are bad. He was, by the way, here legally. Nothing suggests his rampage was a statement of faith.

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And I don't want to emulate those calling for a hasty, gut-reaction loosening of gun laws. Changes of that import must be calm and considered. I think we'd have another hero dead if a bunch of panicked people in the mall had been armed Monday night: the Ogden officer who unquestionably saved lives.

In the confusion, a number of witnesses described two gunmen. Hammond was in street clothes. As police unraveled the details of the disaster, they discovered that officer Ken Hammond was the "other gunman," but someone might have assumed he was a bad guy and killed him or another innocent standing nearby.


Deseret Morning News staff writer Lois M. Collins may be reached by e-mail at lois@desnews.com