News from 1993 (and other age old coincidences...)

In two blog posts, I discussed recent news reports about a shooting involving a seventeen year old alleged to have shot a friend to death. While the gun was fired repeatedly over the evening, here's a brief account of the fatal shooting:

By the end of the night, O誰eill, Sheridan and two others were alone when O誰eill got the gun and turned on the laser designator. O誰eill put the laser light on the three friends, who proceeded to duck behind a car. O誰eill dropped the gun to his side and the friends came out from behind the car. It was then that O誰eill raised the gun and pointed it at Sheridan and Sheridan knocked it away. The weapon went off and Sheridan collapsed in the driveway.
In the last of the two posts, I mentioned another case in which a teen allegedly shot another teen in what the survivor alleged was "Russian roulette." The problem with the kid's story was that the gun was a semiauto.

To its credit, the Inquirer had not attempted to make any connection between "Russian roulette" and multiple teens in a drunken shoot-em-up culiminating in one killing another.

Today, however, the Inquirer has paired its latest report on the drunken shoot-em-up with a genuine Russian roulette case, juxtaposing both stories under the common headline "Drinking, guns and teens a deadly mix" in the hard copy (not online) edition. The similarities:

"I can't believe it - how similar everything is," said Glasco [the victim's mother]. "The age of the shooter and age of the victim."
The similarities are indeed there, and I am sure that there are a number of stories involving seventeen-year-olds who shot other teens.

Especially if you search back in time. Today's Russian roulette story took place in 1993. Not that there's anything wrong with pairing a new story with a old story, but I think that had the culprit been a car instead of a gun, a more recent "similar story" could have been located.

And it wouldn't have involved quite as much of a stretch. Here are the facts of the 1993 Russian roulette case as alleged by the then-District Attorney:

On Jan. 10, 1993, James H. Burr of Caln Township, then 17, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Anthony Glasco. The two teens, along with three others, had been drinking beer and playing Russian roulette.

"The victim allegedly gets a gun out, puts a single bullet in the chamber, spins [it], and puts the gun on the bed," Anthony Sarcione, then the Chester County district attorney, was quoted as saying. "At this point, the defendant picks up the gun. The victim leans his head into the gun, and the defendant pulls the trigger."

I don't know how much it matters from the point of view of the victim, but I do think there's a difference between leaning your head into a gun and putting up your hand to deflect a gun that is suddenly pointed at you. True, the victims are both dead (and the only facts before us are allegations made later) but isn't it possible that there's a distinction being lost?

At the risk of sounding facetious, I have a question. If the issue is youth and guns, how about old age and other instruments of crime? In this context, I found it hard to ignore another report in today's Inquirer, headlined "Woman, 73, sentenced to life in killing of 84-year-old neighbor":

Kathy MacClellan was charged with attacking Marguerite "Tuddy" Eyer with the claw end of a hammer on Feb. 7, 2005, in Hickory Hills, a mobile home community north of Bethlehem.

Eyer identified MacClellan as her killer before she died a short time later in the emergency room; the coroner said Eyer had been struck in the head 37 times.

Judge Emil Giordano sentenced MacClellan to serve the rest of her life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

"Your conduct cannot be discounted because of your age," Giordano told MacClellan, the Morning Call of Allentown reported. She declined to comment before the sentence was imposed.

conduct cannot be discounted because of age?


Does that mean age is irrelevant?

Would it be too facetious to suggest that "old age and hammers don't mix"?

Well, they don't:

Mox lives with his parents on Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City. His 88 year old mother told police when she woke up Tuesday morning she said a comment to her son about being awake early. She says Mox then went into his parents bedroom and started hitting his father repeatedly with a hammer. When Mox's mother came in the bedroom he struck her with the hammer in the back of the head.

Police say the father's injuries needed stitches and his mother now has stables in the back of her head.

Stables? If I said, "No horsing around when you're hammered," then they'd really say I was being facetious.

While I'm only 52, I do have a hammer. I have also been known to get hammered on occasion. Shouldn't there be a waiting period?

In my defense, I don't mean any harm. I mean, do I have to be considered a nuisance when I'm only trying to make sense out of news?

MORE: In other news, I see that a deranged 25 year old man went on a shooting spree in Montreal. Initial reports focused on the important fact that he had a "Mohawk haircut," but this report has a lot more about the shooter's background.

I suspect that the communitarian left will blame guns, and the communitarian right will blame "the culture."

What a sane and rational world.

Hey, isn't it about time we cracked down on trenchcoats?

UPDATE: Via Dr. Helen's sane and sober analysis of the Montreal shooting, I found a Montreal blogger, Sari Stein, with whose reaction I couldn't agree more:

To everyone out there trying to use today's shooting at Dawson to further their own political agenda, whether it concerns gun registries or separatism or mideast politics or Michael Moore or law enforcement funding or student psychological services or the price of tea in India...

Please, please, can you give it a rest?

We don't know the motive of the shooter or shooters. We don't know the condition of the victims. We don't know what it all means. In all likelihood, this was a senseless tragedy, with no-one to blame but the shooters and no agenda to push besides trying to help everyone cope as best as we can.

No one to blame but the shooters.

What makes that such a difficult concept?

MORE (09/16/06): Clayton Cramer has a very reassuring news: At Least the Guns Were Registered! (More at the The Toronto Globe and Mail.)

Yes, mandatory registration saves lives!

posted by Eric on 09.14.06 at 06:55 AM


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