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Remembering another local school murder
by Andrew Barbano
Nov 14, 2013 | 1022 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The relentless coverage of the recent killings at Sparks Middle School ignored a previous school murder.

On May 4, 1972, Libby Booth Elementary Principal Virgil Ouren, 33, met in his office with a teacher, an administrator and a secretary. Ouren was shot three times with a 22-caliber pistol, twice in the head, once in the lower back, killing him instantly. Reno police said the meeting concerned a personnel problem.

A guard was placed on Superintendent Marvin Moss after subsequent telephone threats.

A man matching the description of sixth-grade teacher Samuel Grinstead Knipmeyer, 53, was seen running from the building carrying a gun. He fled, abandoning his wife and daughter. The FBI tracked him through Mexico, California and finally to Bend, Ore., where he worked as a courthouse janitor. He was arrested on Oct. 26, 1977.

Several local teachers remember the incident. One grew up on the same street as Ouren in Hannaford, North Dakota.

Knowledge of the Ouren case might have opened important new lines of inquiry. What was learned from 1972? What policies were put in place? Would they have applied to the recent incident or have they been forgotten over time?

With all the lust for information immediately following the Sparks shootings and all the rumors reported as a result, why did no one — media, cops, administrators — ask the right questions?

The greatest media sin is that of omission, whether from corporate pressure,  inexperienced staff or failure of institutional memory.

Which is my principal motivation to re-establish a community television channel.

The answers are out there if we just ask the right questions.

TV OR NOT TV? Here are the frontrunners for the first shows of my new live TV season.

1. Wild horses: Icons or canned goods?

2. Support ‘em or scuttle ‘em? Raise taxes for schools or bulldoze them and tell families to look elsewhere. Shutting down public education will permanently balance our stingy state budget. Ominously, a school tax was crushed by voters in Bellweather, Colo. last week.

3. Should we push Apple to make an i-Gun at least as secure as an i-Phone?

4. Should all U.S. Winter Olympic Team members simultaneously come out of the closet and dare Vlad the Impaler to ban our athletes from Russia?

Please forward your suggestions or vote on the above. I encourage you to donate to the cause at Barbwire.TV

ADIOS PEGGY PIERCE. A memorial service for the revered assemblymember starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center at Keystone and Riverside Drive in Reno. People have volunteered labor, food, beverages and decorations. If you’d like to help, contact Bob Fulkerson 775-348-7557, or Vanessa Spinazola 775-786-6757. Pierce, D-Las Vegas, succumbed last month to cancer at age 59.

Rest well, brave lady. You did important work.

Esté bien. Haga infierno.

Be well. Raise hell.
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