How do you know a hero?
While Twitter’s not the be-all and end-all, it can sometimes help you in the right direction.
Search #WASTRONG and the messages come fast.
“Thank you Truman! You’re our hero.”
“As a school, we NEED to do something for Truman. He is such an amazing person and will forever be a hero in my eye.”
“You’ve saved our town from unthinkable sadness!”
“Truman, I believe we are all eternally grateful for you. Thank you does not work good enough, but it will do for now.”
“Truman is such a hero, he saved so many lives.”
They are all talking about Truman Templeton, the 17-year-old student at West Albany High School who is being credited with stopping a fellow student from staging an attack on the school that police believe certainly would have killed people.
It was late last week and, as he told my colleague, Dan Cassuto in an exclusive interview, he had been clearly anxious. When he told his mother he didn’t want to go to a school assembly, she pushed him a little as to why.
“She asked me what’s been going on at school,” he said. “I thought, you know what, I might as well come forward with this…. I was very nervous.”
And that’s when he told her about Grant Acord, his classmate who had been bringing bomb-making guides to school, had been talking about explosives, had been making Truman more and more nervous.
“You never know if they’re being funny or trying to sound macho, or being serious,” the teen told Cassuto. “If they are being serious and you do speak up, you’ve prevented a national disaster.”
Templeton’s mother told a friend in law enforcement who told someone in the Albany Police Department, which led to Acord’s arrest.
“It’s always worth it,” Templeton said. “I’d much rather report something like this than leave it alone.”
And if Templeton had left it alone? Not said anything?
Court documents spell out what could have been.
Police found two pipe bombs, two Molotov cocktails and two explosives made from drain cleaner.
And in a notebook, Acord had laid out his plan.
“Leave home with stuff in truck at 7:30. Go to first period. After period wait in parking lot until 10:00 a.m. Drive to smoke pot to gear up. Be back in far parking lot by 11:00. If no school resource officer is there, move to parking lot next to 3rd exit parked backwards at 11:10. Get gear out of trunk. Carry duffle in one hand, napalm firebomb in the other, walk towards school with ‘airport stak’ blasting out of car. Drop duffle. Light and throw napalm, unzip bag and begin firing. Cooly state: ‘The Russian grim reaper is here’ (bad boys 2). If 3rd exit is blocked by napalm fire, or is locked, run to 1st entrance. In either entrance, throw a smoke bomb prior to walking in. Proceed to enter the school, then shoot and throw bombs throughout the school. Kill myself before SWAT engages me.”
“I’m glad I came forward,” Templeton said. “If I didn’t, we might be hearing a much different and sadder on the news. My hope is people will follow my lead, be more open about this stuff, report it sooner.”
That’s really the lesson, isn’t it?
It’s almost a cliché – if you see something, say something.
But just when you think the phrase might cross over into the land of language that has lost its meaning, along comes someone like Truman Templeton who breathes new life into it, reminding people of the importance of something so seemingly simple.
Meanwhile, Templeton is still letting it all sink in.
“It’s kind of hard to believe it’s me. Is this really me they’re talking about? Hard to believe.”