Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coming to grips.

It was only last week that PJ commented on my blog regarding violence here in our country. It was a response to something I'd posted regarding terrorism, specifically as it related to the Pope's controversial comments regarding Islam. PJ's point was, and I paraphrase, that the media (and most citizens) are so preoccupied with terrorism right now that we're virtually ignoring the daily violence -- random and premeditated -- the occurs all over the country.

Here in Denver, yesterday capped a week that featured three shocking, violence crimes. First, Jose Luis Rubi-Nava tied a noose around his girlfriend's neck, tied the other end to the back of his truck and dragged her at high speeds to a horrific death. Her name was Luz Maria Franco-Fierros. Both were illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Then Brian Allen Washington randomly walked up to a car stopped at an intersection and shot the driver four times, killing him. The driver was highly decorated Detective Mike Thomas from the Aurora Police Department, a suburb of Denver. Thomas was on duty but in civilian clothing and driving his personal vehicle, as he was on his way to a training exercise. They believe Washington had no idea Thomas was a police officer; he just randomly killed someone. Washington was already a suspect in a random shooting in Denver the week before. He has a criminal record.

Finally, yesterday 54-year-old Dwayne R. Morrison walked into a small-town high school, wandered around for a while talking to students, then entered an honors English classroom, pulled out a gun and took six girls hostage. The police managed to negotiate the release of four of the hostages, but then Morrison cut off negotiations and gave a four o'clock deadline, saying something would happen at 4 p.m. (I do not know what the deadline was for, or what demands may have been put forward). At that point, the SWAT team entered the building and room where Morrison was holding the hostages. Morrison shot at the SWAT team, then shot 16-year-old Emily Keyes in the head, and finally shot himself in the head. Emily died at the hospital at about 4:30. The other hostage got away safe. No one has speculated as to a motive, but Morrison was said to have had "sex toys" in his backpack. He also was said to have sexually fondled the girls. Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener has been in that community for 35 years, and his son was in the school when this all went down. He was visibly shaken by everything that happened -- he personally knew the kids who were held hostage. Morrison had a criminal record.

PJ was right. Terrorism is frightening. But these sorts of violent crimes are right here. Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado, fits firmly into the category of "it could never happen here."

It could happen anywhere, anytime.


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