Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘murder’

There will be no understanding. There should be no blame.

Our section of the world is confronted yet again with unexplainable suffering taking the shape of so many other recent events. A person, a lonely agenda, a gun, a manifesto, a set of targets, an “obvious” back story, a chance to intervene, the event, the scramble, the rage online, the blame, the investigation, the pontifications, the closing, the moving on, repeat.

The narrative is too simple. Every aspect of it hides complexities that would reveal at almost every turn that we are not in control and we cannot predict. Our easily tricked pattern recognizing brains piecing it all together try to draw connections and signs and ways it could have been different. It couldn’t. Not this event.

Any solace drawn from conclusions and blame is hollow and destined to be violated.

And yes the question is a valid one and one worth investigating: how can this be different?

It’s answer, which should NEVER settled down to THE answer, is not a simple narrative about a single event and a single person. The question should spawn a web of questions and should forever.

The meta issue is conclusion.

When we conclude we have reduced the world and the situation. We do not consider all the factors. When we conclude we have decided we know far more than we possible can.

Peace comes not from a false conclusion (police should have known, young white males with money do X, gun control, …). Peace may never come. Maybe that’s part of the ongoing issue is that we seek concepts and ideas and states of being that aren’t anything, can’t be obtained.

Sometimes when these events exist I have extreme sorrow. I’m sorrowful when light of lives are snuffed out. This happens every day all over the planet in all sorts of senseless ways. Though I’m not sure you can call any life or death full of sense.

In the face of inconceivable complexity I am left only to ask questions and through those questions love and honor this brief experience of life. It’s not usually peaceful but it is living.

Read Full Post »

Shadows

I’ve told some of my story to friends and family in my life, but never really publicly and certainly no one knows this internal dialog I’ve had with myself for 19 years. When you write something down and/or tell a wider audience about it it takes on a whole different level of real. should I tell my story? should I put down the never ending stream of questions and failed answers for others to read? is it grandstanding? is it helpful? is it selfish?

Like most of my questions, I don’t have a good answer for these so I’m just going to DO.

First, I don’t think I’m unique. People die. People are murdered. All of us will experience people die around us and we will die ourselves. I don’t know the horrors of war, haven’t seen someone die in the ER, have not been in a gang fight and have only see one dead body in real life, and it was at a distance. Hell, I haven’t even been to more than one funeral I think.

But.

When I was 17, a month removed from an appendectomy and having finally earned the white-shirt for Employee of the Month, 4 of my coworkers were murdered and another one shot on the night of December 14th 13th, 1993. I worked at Chuck E Cheese in Aurora, CO. The murderer was Nathan Dunlap, the brother of a classmate of mine.

I often had the closing shift in the kitchen having been revoked of the mouse costume because I had too much energy and we needed that energy in the kitchen. On that night I had a conversation with the lone survivor of the shooting, Bobby. He wanted extra hours as he had a family and needed some cash. I wanted to get out early that night for a variety of teen ager reasons. So we agreed to switch shifts.

Random coincidence? fate? divine intervention?

Bobby came in and I was out the door around 9:40p ish after having made a rare last late sandwich orders. Turns out that was Dunlap’s order I made.

I clocked out, took off my apron and said good bye to all the closing staff. On the way out I noticed Dunlap, who i did not know. It was definitely strange to have someone hanging out at a chuck e cheese late at night. Then again sometimes our friends would wait for people to finish their shifts.

I drove home. It was pretty late so I started my night time routine. And then the news started to break. In the time between me leaving and and brushing my teeth my coworkers were dead. Bobby managed to somehow escape out the kitchen exit bleeding from the shot to his face. I’ll spare any other details as I really don’t know the full story, only what I’ve heard.

That was my shift. Bobby saved me.

Bobby and I spoke only one other time after that, at the trial 3 years after that night. It was a brief conversation. Again, words fail. I thanked him.

Immediately after realizing what was going on my mind started to fill in details. I tried to remember everything. And I was imagining what happened inside that store. What would I have done? How did Bobby do it? What was everyone doing? Thinking? Feeling? How could I have stopped him?

I went to school the next day. I did a tv interview in the following days I briefly talked to the police. I met up with friends and talked about it. My brain became a swirl of information, memories, imagined memories. Shadows of events that could have happened.

After 19 years these shadows still follow me.

And I wasn’t even there. But in an infinite number of imagined memories I was there. I process my own mortality all the time, constantly. My own death over and over.

How does Bobby feel? How do the families of my former coworkers process this?

I’m not a depressed person, wasn’t a depressed person then. In fact I went on to work at another chuck e cheese in the area with my buddy Scott within weeks. The rest of high school was great and I went on to college.

In the middle of my freshman year at the University of Chicago I had to fly back to Colorado as a witness in the trial. 3 years later I had to retell everything I knew and in front of Dunlap.

How does a person remember important details after 3 years? I felt so disoriented. Was I making stuff up? Was my memory being altered by the weird ways in which the media and lawyers and trials play out? Can I please stop thinking about this?

Senior year of college included the unfolding of Columbine – not too far from Aurora. 6 years later my brain yet again went into overdrive chasing shadows of the past.

And so here we are one day after yet another massacre in the suburbs of Denver. So much sadness and distress fills me because it will never make sense to the survivors, the families, the friends, the family of the killer. Yes, I’m sure folks will find some peace in some explanation or some belief system. But in those quiet hours of the night, every July 20th, and with a million other cues their brains will run wild with shadows.

Again, I don’t think I’m that unique. We all grapple with death and the seemingly meaninglessness of it all.

I have a great life. I play and work hard. By all means I am functioning human.

I treasure every moment as much as I can. I love my family and my friends as hard as I can all the time so if the randomness strikes they will know I loved them.

And

The shadows still haunt me.

I am really alive?
Did this really happen?
How will I die?
Have a lived a life worth surviving that night?
Had I been there would it be different?
Should I talk to people about this?
Am I defined by this?
Does anyone care about my internal struggles?
Should I even try to get rid of the shadows?
How much of my behavior is shaped by this?

So here I am.

Maybe I’ve come to believe that all of existence is information and computation because it’s the only explanation I’ve come across that accounts for people brutally murdering other people senselessly.

I’ll never be at peace with this stuff. And I’m ok with that. In some ways it helps me live and love more.

In the end I decided to post some essays on this because there’s now another 100+ people out there with shadows looming. Maybe they will come across my story and find some peace in that were all connected and we don’t have to face the shadows alone. And maybe this is selfish in that now there are others out there for me to connect to that know aurora, co, that live with these shadows.

I’ve long believed that the worst kind of pain is loneliness. Even worse than death. I don’t think I can offer any grander help or relief or purpose than telling a story that leaves me and a reader or two less lonely.

Read Full Post »

Check out this TED talk from Jim Fallon.

My take: pretty dicey stuff to kinda just throw out there. Definitely needs a longer talk!

Probably not likely that you can “spot bad news” reliably in the family tree using these methods.  Also, by the mere suggestion of “bad news” you alter the course of things.

and is this something we actually want to do?  This is a question not only in murder and violence, but for all of genetic profiling.

Jim Fallon weighs in on the TED page in a comment:

I’m with my family right now on vacation in Cabo and they are asking me the same question; if I thought one of them had the requisite genetic, developmental, brain trauma, exposure to 3D violence and it began to show prodromally, that is before the pathological behavior would be expressed (especially in their teens), would I tell them? We have the same potential problem with Alzheimer’s disease. And they all say they want to know, but when I say everything is OK, they say “but how do we know you’re just not protecting us from the truth?” How do you get around THAT problem?


Read Full Post »

Gosh. What to say about the verdict in the Luis Ramirez murder case?

This string of events, court case, and circumstances is a real GRAY AREA.

Gasps filled the courtroom in Pottsville Friday as not-guilty verdicts were announced on charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and ethnic intimidation for the teens.

A death caused by a brutal beating of an illegal immigrant.  Alcohol. Teenagers as the culprits.  Small town America.  All white jury.  Religion. Racism.

And a messy bunch of testimony and witnesses.

Walsh pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Ramirez’s civil rights and could be out of prison in four years. On the witness stand, he identified Piekarsky as the kicker. So did Scully, who told jurors he tried to kick the immigrant but missed. Scully is charged in juvenile court with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.

This one is not going to go away anytime soon.

Even if the verdict came back guilty I think this one still hangs out there as a big giant hornet’s nest.

Questions hanging out there:

  1. Did the culprits get off easy?
  2. Was racism at play in the courtroom?
  3. What rights does an illegal immigrant have?
  4. How do we prosecute teens?
  5. Did the recent debates in the region stir up violence?
  6. What are the consequences at play here?
  7. What are the histories of these teens? of the victim? of the town?
  8. What is the legal precedent? the cultural precedent?

More than anything we need to talk about these things.  Debate them.  This situation doesn’t have an easy answer nor an absolute answer.  It’s real gray and the gray things require a lot of thought and debate. Let’s start.

Read Full Post »