Friday, February 8, 2008

Why?

I should warn you that there is no knitting content in this post. It is about something entirely different that is confusing and upsetting and tragic... and something I just have to write about.

If you keep up with the national news on the big 24 hour networks (CNN, MSNBC), you might have heard about a tragic and shocking even that occurred in Kirkwood, Missouri last night.

Here is a link to the news coverage.

In a nutshell, a disgruntled Kirkwood citizen shot a local police officer outside of a restaurant, took the officer's sidearm, ran the block or so to the Kirkwood City Hall, entered a routine planning & zoning committee meeting, and opened fire. He shot 6 people there before police got there & stopped him (with what I'm sure amounted to a large amount of their own firepower). Of the people who were shot, only two survived. A reporter was shot in the hand and will make a full recovery (at least physically). The Kirkwood mayor sustained two gunshot wounds to the head and is still listed in critical condition. When it was all said and done, 2 people were injured, 2 police officers were killed, 3 council members were killed, and the gunman was killed.

The gunman apparently was a pretty nice guy, except that he seems to have been a bit of a trouble maker at those meetings (frequently disrupting them) and had apparently racked up quite a few fines & tickets for minor infractions of parking laws and business ordinances from the city of Kirkwood. Last year he was removed from a meeting by police because he was too disruptive, and he ended up bringing a lawsuit against the city for infringement of his 1st amendment rights. The judge very recently ruled that his rights were not violated... and so he went to the meeting and murdered a bunch of good people.

Here's the thing about Kirkwood: it's a great city. It's actually just a few miles from my home. I frequently shop the craft stores there; we go there every Independence Day to watch the fireworks; I have served several families who live there. It is a lovely small town with some beautiful old buildings, a train station (that still has a lot of that old fashioned charm), a farmer's market, and a nice little storefront section with a few interesting shops. My heart goes out to the people of Kirkwood, because despite the fact that they make up such a nice community, they have just had a really rough couple of years.

They have some race-relations issues that really came to the forefront when Sgt. McEntee was gunned down in his patrol car in 2005. The gunman was only recently sentenced for his crime.

Then, just over a year ago, the "Missouri Miracle" happened. Two boys who had been abducted were found in the apartment of their kidnapper. It was called a miracle because one of the boys had been missing for several days and the other had been missing since 2002. It was a wonderful miracle that both of these boys were found... but it was tragic that they had been abducted in the first place, and shocking to the community that they had been held all of that time in their quiet town.

And then the insanity of last night's events hit... and I just have to ask: Why?

I know that this is a silly question. I know the answer already. There is no answer. This was clearly a man who had some undiagnosed mental problems. How else does someone go from being the annoying trouble maker at meetings to being the lone gunman who single handedly brought an entire community to its knees? There was no way to know this would happen, and so there was no way to prevent it from happening.

Bad things happen. Bad people happen. The best we can do is pray that God will help us pick up the pieces and find the courage to keep going. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the commnity who was affected by this senseless tragedy. I pray that God will give each and every one of them the strength and comfort and courage to pick up their pieces and keep on going.

The thing I keep thinking about is that each one of those people in that room just thought they were going to a meeting. They thought they would get off work, eat dinner with their families, go and do their civic duty, and be home in time for Leno. But that's not what happened. Some of them will never be home in time for Leno. Their husbands and wives and children will never have dinner with them again. Some of the people in the room escaped physical injury, but they will never be the same again. They will carry the memories of that horrifying event with them for the rest of their lives. That has forever changed them.

We can't know what the next week or day or hour or minute will bring. It may bring joy... or it may bring tragedy. So please, when you see your children or your spouse or significant other tonight... whenever you see or talk to the people you love, please give them a hug. Tell them you love them. You don't know what will happen in the next moment... and this may be your last chance.

1 comment:

Zarah said...

Thank you for this post. Being from Missouri, I've followed all these national news stories coming out of Kirkwood closely. This shooting hit me especially hard since I just started a new job in government, which involves public meetings. The whole thing is just terrible.