Shooting incidents in Pittsburgh and Charlotte continue to reverberate throughout the country — including the Ravens locker room.
Center Matt Skura grew up about 20 minutes from the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh where 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue were killed Saturday by a Pennsylvania man in the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history. And a student was killed by another student Monday at Butler High School, which is about two miles from Skura’s home in Charlotte.
“It’s obviously a huge tragedy because I know a lot of friends that I grew up with that went to the Tree of Life synagogue and there are a lot of people who are Jewish from the Pittsburgh area, and it’s just tragic to see those things happen because just for me personally, I’m just someone who tries to accept everyone no matter what race, their background, or anything like that,” Skura said before Thursday afternoon’s practice.
“So it’s definitely tough to see because Pittsburgh is still close to home for me. I was born there, I grew up there for 14 years. And then hearing about the shooting in Charlotte was also tough because that high school is probably a mile or two miles down the road from my house. I train with a couple guys who play high school football there, and it’s just tragic to see those things happen. Like everyone says, you don’t think it’s going to happen somewhere close to you or make it a personal situation, but those things do happen, and it’s tough.”
Skura and his family moved from Pittsburgh to Columbus, Ohio, and he said he doesn’t have any family members who still live in Pittsburgh. But the Ravens’ opponent on Sunday, the Steelers, sent two buses of players and staff to a joint funeral for a pair of brothers killed in the shooting at the synagogue, and coach Mike Tomlin shared his feelings during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday.
“I’m still kind of in a state of shock as a member of the community,” he said. “I’m sickened by what transpired. I’m saddened by it. I’m also a little bit taken aback just by maybe my kids’ ability to process it. It’s just unfortunate times. That’s just a personal reflection. I haven’t had a lot of time to get a pulse of community perspective and things of that nature.”
The high school shooting in Charlotte struck a more personal chord for Skura because that is where he, his wife and soon-to-be eight-month-old daughter make their offseason home.
“I think once you have kids, you get a whole new perspective on life, and you just can’t even imagine those sorts of things happening to your own child,” he said. “So it definitely hits you in a different spot emotionally. I don’t think it really changes anything for my wife and I as far as sending our kid to school or anything like that. It just changes your perspective, and hopefully those things — by the time that she’s ready to go to school — changes have been made to make schools safer.”
That the Ravens are playing host to the Steelers on Sunday at 1 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium has not gone unnoticed by Skura, who said he gained a different outlook on life after Sunday’s 36-21 loss at the Carolina Panthers.
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“I think losing to the Panthers and then you hear about the Tree of Life synagogue and then the Charlotte shooting, I think that kind of put things in perspective for me,” he said. “Yeah, we might have lost a game, but someone lost their child, a lot of people lost grandparents, their mom, their dad. So it definitely puts things into perspective.”