This is a fascinating (and long) story about a school shooting in Austin in 1978, and the lasting scars it left on the eighth-grade students who were there to see John Christian shoot and kill his teacher, Roy Grayson — a man he looked up to and may have even idolized. After just 20 months in a reform school, Christian was released and went on to study law and become a tax attorney, and still lives in Austin, where former schoolmates have run into him from time to time. Why did he kill his teacher that day? And did his short treatment have anything to do with how well-connected his father was in Texas social and political circles?
Ray listened to the others recite the latest reports about their former classmate, the shooter, John Christian, the son of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s former press secretary George Christian: He lives a few blocks from here. He’s practicing law. Someone saw him recently. What do people say about him? Is he . . . normal? For Ray’s part, the last he had seen of John was when his friend had disappeared into the back seat of a police car. Yet John continued to hover over his life like a spectral question mark, both inexplicable and utterly familiar. “He wasn’t some monster you could easily explain away,” Ray said later. “Hell, he was one of us.”