Residents of Liberty City remain in shock today following the senseless act of altruism committed Monday by 17 year old Liberty High student, Jason Cooper, and his 15 year old accomplice, Martin Walsh.
As the investigation into the congenial atrocity continues a more detailed picture of Monday’s events is emerging.
Cooper and Walsh began their affable rampage shortly after morning break, giving no warning whatsoever of their benevolent intentions. Eyewitnesses recall with horror how the pair stalked the corridors of the school, indiscriminately holding open doors for other students, offering to help them carry their books and asking if they were feeling happy today.
Teacher, Janice Brown, who has been hailed as a hero for her actions during the two-hour reign of kindness, told how she confronted Cooper and Walsh outside her classroom in a desperate attempt to prevent the crazed duo from bursting in and offering to get everybody a nice, cool drink from the water fountain.
“They had a packet of biscuits and they asked if I wanted one,” said Brown with a shudder. “But it was the look in their eyes that terrified me the most. That look of joy and hopefulness at all of life’s possibilities. I’ve never been so scared in all my years of teaching, and I get held up at knifepoint several times a day.”
In the aftermath of the pleasant attack many questions remain to be answered. Why did nobody spot the warning signs that Cooper and Walsh were planning their decorous assault? Could the civilised spree have been prevented?
“You expect kids their age to be doing normal kid stuff,” Brown went on. “Carjacking; mainlining class A drugs; visiting prostitutes and knocking them about a bit. I still can’t believe something like this could happen here.”
But those who knew Cooper, the alleged leader of the amiable gang, paint a different picture: a disturbing image of a bright, gregarious boy who never had an angry word to say to anybody.
“Something changed in him about a year ago”, said one former classmate who wished to remain anonymous. “Around the time his parents got back together he started acting really weird. He didn’t keep himself to himself anymore. He stopped being a loner, you know? And when he was alone it was usually because he had his nose in a book or something. It was the classics he read, mostly. Proust, Dickens and Tolstoy were his favourites. But sometimes he’d pick up something lighter if he was in that sort of a mood. I never dreamed he could be capable of something like this.”
However, there are those who claim this was a debonair tragedy waiting to happen.
Jeff Bertram, co-chair of action group Concerned Parents Against Peaceful Activities, said: “Our children are becoming decreasingly angry and alienated. It’s a worrying trend. Growing up, most of us thought nothing of stealing a car and using it to mow down a line of pedestrians. But namby-pamby activities like puppetry and macrame, which glorify non-violence, send a message to our children that it’s OK to flounce about offering to carry their shopping bags for them instead.”
Recent studies carried out at Liberty University’s School of Psychology have suggested that prolonged exposure to peaceable pastimes such as “riding a bicycle in a safe and responsible manner”, “model making” and “sitting quietly” can have a harmful positive effect on children.
Dr Sandra Prentice, who performed the research, said: “The most startling results were when we subjected the children to classical music played at a reasonable volume. Children exposed to the poncy music for as little as five minutes became noticeably more relaxed, more open and friendly, very nearly approachable.”
Prentice added: “And they almost entirely stopped hitting each other with chair legs.”
Chillingly, extracts from Jason Cooper’s diary, newly released by police today, reveal how he and Marsh often enjoyed listening to Beethoven’s uplifting work “Ode to Joy”.
But Vice City-based family liaison officer, Alice Scott-Jones, disagrees.
“Society has long decried what it sees as the sissification of its youth,” she said. “It’s natural for parents to worry if little Johnny isn’t out running the numbers or assassinating politicians all the time. But the fact remains that the vast majority of children who enjoy wussy activities like tiddly-winks or hopscotch do not go on to commit grievous acts of decorum like the one perpetrated by Cooper and Marsh.”
Meanwhile Liberty High remained closed this morning as students and staff struggle to come to terms with what happened. The school gates have become a temporary shrine on which well-wishers have hung garlands fashioned out of spent ammo clips and bloodied knuckle dusters. Others have scrawled heartfelt messages of condolence.
Sadly, none of these are legible.