There are times when you encounter the unexpected. I was just walking to
the neighborhood store when I heard the sound of live drums. Not a
totally uncommon sound in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of
Gardena, CA. where more than a few quinceanaras take place, but these
drums we're different. They sounded not like the sound of Mexican
music, but of Hip Hop. It sounded like R&B.
R&B? That's something far too rare these days.
It was something to investigate, so I did,
and I found a myself in the midst a not only a family tragedy, but also a
family of uncommon strength which I could not have expected or
MORENO VALLEY: Dead suspect apparently related to those he killed
The suspect in the shooting deaths of two Moreno Valley residents and
the wounding of a Riverside County sheriffâ€™s deputy remained
unidentified Wednesday night, July 23, but family members of the dead
man and woman believe the suspect is a relative.
I'€™m in mourning,ť said a man who declined to give his name Wednesday
as he ushered reporters away from the house where the first shooting
happened Tuesday, on Delphinium Avenue in Moreno Valley. The house was
filled with mourners, and outside, the mood among relatives was tense.
About 2 a.m. Wednesday more than 24 hours after the violence began€” a
sheriffâ€™s K-9 captured the suspectâ€™s scent and led deputies to the
body. It was found in thick brush in the foothill area past the north
end of Pigeon Pass Road.
Investigators found an assault rifle nearby that they believed was used in the shootings. An autopsy will determine whether
the suspect died at his own hand or that of the deputy, who returned fire.
Home / Breaking News MORENO VALLEY: Gunman, 1st victim in fatal shooting spree IDâ€™d
The man responsible for fatally shooting two people and wounding a sheriffâ€™s deputy has been identified.
Alex Anderson, a 34-year-old Moreno Valley resident, was the gunman
found dead in some thick brush near the northern terminus of Pigeon Pass
Road, said sheriffâ€™s Deputy Albert Martinez.
Investigators found Andersonâ€™s body after a manhunt that lasted more than 24 hours.
Sheriffâ€™s officials said Andersonâ€™s shooting spree began at an
unknown time on Tuesday, July 22, inside a house in the 25500 block of
Delphinium Avenue. The victim was identified as 58-year-old Derek Hardy
of Moreno Valley.
The second shooting was reported at 2:24 p.m. about seven miles from the
house at a Shell gas station at Sunnymead Ranch Parkway and Old Lake
Drive. The victim, 74-year-old Wilma Patterson, was found dead in her
Anderson does not appear to have a criminal record in Riverside County.
Three people dead, including two innocent victims and an armed attacker
who had been using an assault rifle while wearing body armor. All were
related. In response to this horror, using live speeches, with live
musical performances and deep felt hugs, instead of pointing fingers and
shouting recriminations this family found a way to begin the healing,
rather than continue to spread anger, pain and hate.
While on my trip to the local store I had heard the music being
generated by the family of both the suspect and the victims as they did
something quite amazing and unique. They used music, and peace, and
love, as a vehicle to attempt to heal and recover from a violent tragedy
that most of us could hardly even imagine being involved in.
This is how they responded.
And this is what I learned from event organizer Marshawn Deon Williams, grandson of victim Wilma Patterson.
You don't have to look around to see people don't move with
love like that anymore. Can we get one day out of the year for peace?
To get an understanding of what peace is about? Real communication and
body language, of who we are one as humans? That's what the peace day is
about, to come together as one. It's a safe environment here, everyone
can come together because it's peace and love.
My grandma, she taught me how to give, to treat people kindly, to love each other as one.
Build self esteem, love yourself first. My father was from army and it's was hard love. That didn't fit well with me.
[We all need to] just focus a little on the peace and love. (Marshawn, second from the let with family and supportive friends)
Prior to this tragedy Marshawn had begun his own non-profit at www.apeacemovement.org
to focus on his own goals of promoting a more peaceful and humane world .
Undaunted by this tragedy that has affected his own family he has
rallied, using the resources of his non-profit, to bring them together,
to focus on the positive rather than the scream to the hills in
frustration, to wallow in the pain of loss and inconsolable anger.
He, and his family, have choosen to reach toward the nature of our better angels, rather than the devils hidden in our hearts.
It seems almost too much to believe, and I admit I sat more than a
little stunned at the entire event. The depth of the loss contrasted
with the nearly joyous response of the family and their friends, would
seem to some who have grown jaded and cynical growing up - as I did - in
the long shadows of South Central L.A. where life is considered cheap,
temporary and expendable, to see such a heartfelt joyous display in the
midst of such heartbreak.
Statistically speaking, the William's and their extended family are
unique. But then maybe not that unique. In America today 32,000 people
are killed by guns every year. That averages to 92 people per day.
92 people every Day.
Those who support the continuation of guns rights without limit would
argue that the only way to curtain and slow down this death toll is to
promote even more gun ownership, and even more examples of concealed and
open carry. They argue that..
"Only a good guy with a gun, stops a bad guy with a gun."
But who exactly was the "good guy" in this case? It appears that the
attacker ended his own life with his own weapon without the interference
of law enforcement of an outsider. Considering the fact that the
gunman was armed with an M-16 and Body Armor it's difficult to see exactly who might be wandering around the city to stop him and be better armed than he was at the time.
Again, who exactly and precisely was the "good guy" here?
The fact is that the vast majority of gun deaths in the U.S. are not gang shootings (about 619 per year
according to the FBI) or robberies (553 per year) or the result of
other felony crimes such as rape (324 per year). So the theory that
there's some "good guy" available to come swooping in like Clint
Eastwood's Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson's Death Wish are
often far from the reality of the situation. You can find a far higher
number of gun deaths as a result of arguments between individuals (1,844
per year) and other arguments (3,684 per year).
Who exactly is there, ready, willing and able, to end all these arguments in a peaceful manner when guns are at play?
But all those statistics pale very sadly to the number of gun suicides (19,392 in 2010) which happen every year, and happen to account for over 62% of all gun deaths in the nation.
Many of these suicides are not just one where the shooting only kills
themself, they often take a family member, or several, with them before
they finally do the dark deed to themselves.
We see the death toll on the news day in, and day out. Nameless victims
and vilified perpetrators as we are endlessly informed by our film media
and local news. We grow outraged when those victims are the most
innocent, the youngest - of even the oldest as in this case with 75
year-old Wilma Peterson - the most vulnerable and the least threatening.
They drive us into the streets to protest, into the halls of congress
to demand change.
But we don't rise up to protest the majority of these killings. Not the
suicides, because rushing to assign "blame" and pointing fingers at the
"bad guy" quickly becomes far less emotional satisfying when that person
is the victim themselves. Instead we shrug, and knowing nod together
about the unknowingness of it all. We don't speak out that something
should be done to curb the torrent of suicides by gun. No, we don't
always have warning signs, but then very often we don't act on the
warning signs that we have. As I've previously written...
For example, warning signs had been raised in the case of
Jared Loughner who had been highlighted as potentially "dangerous" by
his college counselor who had him reported to campus police and banned
from the school until he went into treatment, his concerned parents had
taken his shotgun away from him and restricted his access to his car.
[Seung-Hui Cho the Virginia Tech shooter] had been referred to a
counselor due to statements which had concerned his teachers but he told
3 separate counselors that he didn't have any "suicidal or homicidal"
tendencies. There were various indicators and concerns by Maj Hasan's
coworkers that he was "stressed" with his upcoming deployment and his
internal conflict with going to war against fellow muslims. Christopher
Dorner's own emotional instability is what led to his firing by the
LAPD. There were indications that Aaron Alexis the Navy Shipyard shooter
was suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress and paranoid
delusions, he attempted to gain treatment though the VA for sleep
related issues, but was not evaluated for emotional or mental health
issues. Adam Lanza clearly had a variety of emotional issues for which
his mother attempted to use guns as a form of "therapy". James Holmes,
the Aurora Theater shooter, had attempted suicide several times, but
still was allowed access to firearms.
We may not have good answers to prevent problems such as this. The
legislation proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting would not
seem to help if these weapons were purchased legally and the suspect
never reached a point where he needed to reload while being challenged.
Our solutions seem insufficient and small bore. Weak and lacking.
The suggestion of a Gun Violence Restraining Order
which has been brought forward by some Sacramento lawmakers may make a
difference by allowing family, friends and co-workers to raise an alarm
when someone exhibits mentally unstable, violent or threatening behavior
and - temporarily, until that status can be confirmed - make
arrangements for any guns or high capacity weapons in their possession
to be retrieved by law enforcement.
There seems to be little more that can be legally done following the
establishment of gun ownership as a personal individual right by the Heller decision of 2008. Even today a Federal Judge has decided the D.C. handgun ban is Unconstitutional.
There is no longer any basis on which this Court can
conclude that the District of Columbiaâ€™s total ban on the public
carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional
under any level of scrutiny,€ť Judge Frederick Scullin said in an
€śTherefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbiaâ€™s complete
ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional,€ť he
added in his 19-page ruling.
The court ordered the city to allow residents to carry handguns outside their homes and to let non-residents carry them as well.
If you look at this wiki page on Gun Deaths (which like so many other reports on this issue completely omits the number and rate of suicides
which would dwarf all other killings) the District of Columbia has only
3.6% rate of gun ownership contrasted with Louisiana which has a rate
of 44.1%, yet the rate of gun murders in D.C. is well over twice the
rate of (16.5 per 100k citizens) compared to the entire state of
Louisiana (7.7 per 100k). Of course it's also fair to note that DC's
overall murder rate - including those without guns - is also double that
of Louisiana (21.8% per 100k vs 9.6% per 100k), so although some might
be tempted to argue that simply bringing DC's gun ownership rate all the
way up to Louisiana's might be a "deterent" that wouldn't seem to apply
when looking at the rest of the overall murder rate.
Either way, our policy makers have so far failed us - utterly - in finding a way to effectively address this problem.
Hence, it falls to families like the Williams-Patterson's to find a way
to make a difference. To turn away from the endless cycle of
victimization, recrimination and retribution which we seem so entrapped
within, and to push us - little by little, step by step - to accept the
ideals of forgiveness, of grace, of embracing the joy and happiness we
should all share in the lives of those we've had the good fortune to
know, and to love, rather than fall prey to Hate for those who - in
their own misguided paths - have taken those loved ones away.
Our greatest weapon in this War on Gun Death, may indeed be something as simple and as powerful as forgiveness - and Hope.