Tar Heel family with son in Maine dealing with second campus lockdown this semester

Having children far from home in college can be stressful – but for Diana Florence, her husband Scott Peeler, and their two children, this has been an especially difficult semester.

Their son is now a sophomore at Bates College and is currently locked down in his dorm room as Maine state police search for Robert Card, the man they charged with killing 18 people and wounding 13 others in a mass shooting Wednesday night.

“He was one of the lucky ones,” Florence said. “He was actually in his dorm when the lockdown notice came out, so he at least was comfortable. He drew the blinds, he stayed away from the windows. And we monitored CNN and the New York Times. And it’s been the same ever since – it’s been quite an 18-hour period, and it’s still going.”

Florence and Peeler both went to UNC-Chapel Hill for undergrad and law school. They now live in New York City, where their children grew up and went to grade school.

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It’s the second time in six weeks that their family has been through something like this – Florence says her daughter is a senior at UNC who was in the student union last month when she saw a man pull out a gun, causing a lockdown on the Chapel Hill campus.

“It’s really quite something,” Florence said. “I mean, you raise your kids to look out for danger. And my kids being city kids, they’re street smart. They don’t walk in dark alleys late at night by themselves, they’re always aware of their surroundings. Then this happens, and it happens in places that we all think are safe – college campuses and college towns – and it just tells you how broken the system is and how desperately we need to fix it.

Florence is a former prosecutor who ran unsuccessfully for Manhattan District Attorney in 2021. She’s angry that this is still happening when she says Americans have enough data to know how to fix the problem.

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“This is not something that’s insurmountable,” said Florence. “It starts with laws, and then it continues with enforcement. But we all have to come together and agree to speaking in rhetoric…yes, we all have rights to bear arms, but we also have rights for our kids to be safe in places where they should be safe. I also think that mental health is a big problem in this country that is grossly underfunded, going back to the 80s.”

“It is not a coincidence that we’re the only civilized country that has continuous issues with this. I just saw on one of the news channels, they were just naming the places that this has happened – a spa, a church, a synagogue, a school, now a bowling alley. I mean, how many more places do we need to strip of their safety until finally our society acts?

“I’m speaking as a mother, yes, and as a lawyer, but really, as a mom and as a person. I’m petrified for our kids.”

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