Friday, August 31, 2007

Famous Former Student

Yesterday, I opened the local newspaper and on the front page above the fold was a story about a woman who had been stabbed to death outside of a south Glendale alcoholics anonymous meeting last Wednesday. The accused killer was a 23 year old homeless male by the name of Hector Marroquin.

Not mentioned in the article was that Hector was a Glendale College student; in fact, I had Hector twice in my developmental reading classes, English 188 and 190, a few years back. I knew that he had problems; he was somewhat odd, showed some strange symptoms, laughing inappropriately; I had to take him out of class for him to refocus, and I tolerated his need to leave early; he freaked if he wasn’t allowed to sit in his particular seat; had frequent absences; seemed like he was off his meds sometimes; other times he was quiet and serious. I tried to get him to go to the health center for evaluation. He put in the lab work hours and finished assignments. We got along; he responded to positive attention, but seemed to crave respect. He passed both of my classes. He seemed to have a big problem with women; he didn’t get along with women instructors.

Now he’s finally killed someone, a woman he probably didn’t even know. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the guy was borderline schizophrenic when he was at GCC. This might have happened on campus.

I think we need to have some kind of campus dialogue about this. We instructors are frequently the first to notice odd behavior in students. We need to know what to do, who and how to refer the person. We need to think seriously about how to interrupt behavior which could become lethal.

Over the years, I’ve had the clearly paranoid, depressed and openly delusional. One student revealed to me that he was actually Jesus Christ; I told him that if he was Jesus Christ, he would know that I drop students who don’t show up for two weeks. I hope he really wasn’t Jesus.