Inexplicable news from Costa Rica

On July First 2010, in a school near San José, a 17 year-old high school student entered the principal ‘s office and shot her directly on her head.  For nine days this woman was in a critical condition, struggling for her life in the intensive care unit of the Hospital Méjico, San José, Costa Rica.  The bullet crossed her neck, touched the spinal cord and broke a couple of vertebras.  She was unconscious and given the damage caused by the bullet, the prognosis was uncertain.  She just passed away today, July 11.

This woman is Nancy Chaverri, principal of a private school for upper middle class children from pre-kindergarten to high school near San José.   The student who shot her told some of his classmates he was going to take revenge against her because “he disliked the principal very much,” due to disciplinary actions she had taken against him. These disciplinary actions mostly addressed incidents related to dress code and conduct.  He brought a gun from his home to school and early that Thursday, the boy announced to some of his peers that at some point during the day, he would do something against the principal.  It seems like his friends did not take him seriously but right before the school day was over, he committed this criminal act.  After a brief persecution in the neighborhood, the police caught him and he is currently in a juvenile detention center, under observation, waiting to be judged. The principal, mother of two adolescents, was also waiting for recovery and was under observation until today, when she died at the Intensive Care Unit.

I have followed this painful story closely since Nancy is a cousin of mine. Like any of you, I never thought of seeing something like this happening to a member of my family, a mother, a professional outgoing woman, with a modern lifestyle, and with very high moral values.  It is also heartbreaking to see something like this happening in Costa Rica. During the last decade, violence has escalated exponentially in Costa Rica and schools have not escaped this phenomenon. However, this is among the worst premeditated acts of violence done by a student to a teacher in a school campus.

The adolescent who shot Nancy might have not committed this criminal act if a gun was not accessible to him.  During the past days, when Nancy’s life was in suspense and her family was in shock , her husband and her two teenage sons committed themselves to start a campaign against the violence in educative centers and to prevent something like this ever happening again in Costa Rica.  The support received by Nancy’s family is vast and reassuring. There is a strong consensus to put pressure on the current government to develop programs addressing the increasing violence among adolescents and to strengthen control and regulation of fire weapons.  Also, many of the messages received by our family indicate a rising concern about the little communication among parents and children and about the increasing lack of respect of students towards their teachers.

This story might sound to you far from us, a reality in a little country about five thousand miles from The United States.  But we also have many acts of violence in our schools in the U.S; sometimes we feel these are isolated problems of specific communities, or countries.  I also thought the same before last week!

I would like to share with you this blog with some of the news and a few opinions or messages supporting Nancy’s family. It is very hard for me to acknowledge that it took me seeing Nancy fighting for her life to actively respond to the many acts of violence in both of the countries I belong to: the U.S. and Costa Rica.  Although Nancy’s blog is in Spanish, please feel free to share, in English or any other language you prefer, your thoughts about gun control and violence in schools.

We also have many problems of violence here in the US. Why not continue raising our voices by writing to our congress representatives to express our positions about gun regulations and the need for training and psychological evaluation for anybody who owns or wants to obtain a fire arm?

―Alejandra Chaverri


4 respuestas a Inexplicable news from Costa Rica

  1. 4 dijo:

    From our homes in England, those of us involved with Infer Trust, (a national registered charity which offers support, advice and networking opportunities to those affected by gun misuse) send our sincere condolences and our loving support to Nancy’s family, friends and colleagues. Many of us have faced, and continue to be affected by the loss or injury of loved ones in tragic circumstances involving guns. We welcome international contact from others in similar circumstances via our website at

  2. alejacha dijo:

    How devastating! This is such sad and shocking news. It does bring too close to home how much violence has entered our communities. I’m not quite sure how to react to this since I’m still taking it in. But, I do agree, that this is a symptom of a larger problem as much as it is a problem in itself. I think there is a growing disconnect between kids and adults, between children and parents, between people in general, and between people and nature; how life is meant to be.

    Again, I’m so sorry for such a tragic and needless loss to you and your family. I’m glad they, and hopefully you, are receiving some community support. It’s hard to make any sense of losing a dedicated educator doing their job. It’s such a loss to her family and school. The student will suffer too. I hope some effort is made to understand why he reacted the way he did. Did he think he’d feel better after hurting the principal? Was that his only way to feel empowered? Did he even begin to understand the implications of what he was doing, or was this part of another video fantasy based on too much time playing computer games? Do violent children understand what death is? I’m sure you’ve thought about all this enough to make your head and heart hurt all too much.

    Marilyn Keller

  3. alejacha dijo:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a tragedy. I very much agree that we need much better policies for gun control and better ways to respond to violence in schools. I also think we need to focus on more social and emotional support for students who are going through tremendous hormonal and emotional changes throughout their teenage years.

    Unfortunately, I have a similar story in my history. In fifth grade, some friends of mine were playing on our school playground after school one day in San Diego when a former student entered the campus, shot and killed our principal, our custodian, and wounded a teacher and several of my friends (one of my friends was shot three times and survived, thank goodness). I wasn’t at school that day because I was visiting my dad in Los Angeles. But the violence of that act was felt for many, many years afterwards and stays with me until this day.

    These random acts of violence are so troubling. I hope that every community that suffers from this sort of incident does some deep soul searching about causes and doubles their efforts around prevention in the future. My heart is with you and your family during this very difficult time.

    All my best,
    Heidi Emberling

  4. Sandra Mueller dijo:

    Alejandra – What a poignant and important story to tell. Ironically, I kept getting confused as I read it which San Jose you were referring to – the one in California or the one in Costa Rica — but, that is also a key point as it could clearly have happened in either place.

    On a personal note, my deepest sympathy to you and your extended family at the loss of Nancy and my commendation for coming forward to share the story to motivate all of us to help end the violence.




Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s