This was not the way I had intended to make my first trip to Saipan.
Saipan, the most developed of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands is still less developed than Guam but has some good hiking, snorkeling, and diving terrain.
Yet I didn’t see Saipan through a scuba face mask.
Instead, I saw it through the eyes of a community that had just been shaken by the mass shooting by a suicidal gunman who decided to take down several other lives before taking his own. The otherwise peaceful island hadn’t experienced a tragedy like this since the Second World War, according to some people, but most Saipan residents agreed this was an “isolated incident.”
I was told about the Saipan assignment on Friday, just as I was clocking out for the night. I left Guam at 7 a.m. the next day, spending most of Saturday visiting the Saipan hospital, the shooting range where one part of the tragedy took place, and making calls to the Saipan Department of Public Safety.