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Every time a tragedy like a school shooting hits the news, the nation shudders at the reports. Dr. William H. Dodson, however, has a unique perspective that most of us hope to never have.

Dodson was the superintendent on Pearl Public Schools in Jackson from 1982-2000. On October 1, 1997, one of his students - sixteen-year-old sophomore Luke Woodham - stabbed and bludgeoned his mother to death, took a rifle to Pearl High School, and shot nine students, killing two.

"The act seemed to come out of the blue, with Luke Woodham randomly shooting anyone who moved," writes Dodson in his book, If Only I Had Known: A True Story. "He did it in a safe and serene community. And he did it on my watch."

Dodson will be in Senatobia on September 21 to speak to the monthly meeting of Lunch With Books at the Senatobia Public Library. He will also have copies of his book available for signing.

The Pearl attack was the first of several similar incidents over the next few years, including the 1999 Columbine shooting and the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Dodson says he spent over a decade asking what could have been done to prevent the attack in Pearl. He has found a strategy he says has stopped other attacks. He calls the perpetrators "Random Actors."

"After numerous attacks, the FBI and Secret Service concluded that you can't identify these students before they strike, or the communities where they will commit an attack," Dodson says. "If they were right, I wouldn't have written this book."

He now serves as president of his own educational consulting firm, and lectures nationally on school safety and leadership.

If Only I Had Known is the only book written by a school executive who experienced an attack.

Lunch with Books meets at the Senatobia Public Library at noon. Bring a sack lunch; dessert and drinks are provided.

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