Sunday, January 15, 2006

Suicide by Cop

By now, you've all heard the news about the 8th grader who was shot by SWAT team members. The news media has picked up on the fact that the boy's parents tried to tell police that the gun was very likely a fake. And like the rabid dogs they are, they just won't let go. They are determined to try to make it look like the SWAT officers, through an error in judgement, caused the death of an innocent young man.

But let's focus for a moment on the actions of the law enforcement officers. They saw a young man brandishing what looked like a 9mm pistol. He pointed it at classmates, he pointed it at himself, he pointed it at officers...and he was shot. Which is what had to happen. Because he painted over the markings designed to identify it as a non-lethal weapon; and it was assumed that the pistol was real and that he intended to use it to kill someone. It is irrelevant whether the parents "suspected" it was a pellet pistol. The cops would have been negligent had they NOT taken the action that they did, especially had the gun been real and others died because of it. They did their jobs and whether we like it or not, they did their jobs WELL.

Why on earth would this young man paint over the markings on the barrel of the gun that were designed to identify it as a non-lethal weapon???

Because he was suicidal. He wanted to die. And therein lies the true tragedy. No one--not the parents, his teachers, or his friends-- saw any warning signs that would have enabled them to get this boy the help he needed. My prayers for peace and comfort are with them in their tremendous loss.

But I have also offered up a prayer on behalf of the SWAT officer who pulled the trigger. He will never forget that he shot a young man for pointing a pellet pistol in his direction. He did what he had to do. And I hope that he knows how much we appreciate a job well done. May God grant him peace within his soul, too. He did the right thing--the ONLY thing that could have been done in that terrible and difficult situation.

God bless you, sir.

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