I don't really know how to start this post today. How to write about what's happened in our wonderful little community. I know we are all reeling from the shock of it, trying to process it in our minds. I know Mama Pea wrote about it, but I've purposefully not read her post yet, wanting my views to be unique / not influenced by what she said.
There was a shooting late on Thursday afternoon. A very public shooting. Sure, there have been some domestic violence cases where shots were fired, but never an incident like this: so many people involved, all members of the community who we all know, something that strikes so close to home because it HAPPENED at home.
We (the Parents Pea and I) know both of the families involved. I grew up with the wife of the shooter's primary target. Her brother and parents homesteaded just 1 1/2 miles from us, and there were a few formative years when we two families did everything together: celebrated birthdays, holidays, held annual cookie bakes, did chores for one another when needed, etc., etc. Mama Pea's 'Burrito in the Snow' story is about this family.
This daughter of the neighbors found her husband out on the East Coast where he was raised and they were both going to college. She brought him home for their wedding, and it was held in the same gorgeous lodge where I was later married (and where her father was the officiant of our ceremony). After living on the East Coast for several years, they made the unexpected (but welcomed by us all) move back home, back here. Her husband had studied law and followed in her family's footsteps, carving out a well-liked and well-respected spot for himself in the community. When this woman was growing up, her dad was the county attorney for years and years. Now it was her husband's turn.
His stint as county attorney has gone on relatively smoothly (at least, that's how it's always appeared), and he's earned a reputation as a tough prosecutor. On Thursday, however, a court case on-going since 2006, appealed and over-turned and re-tried . . . resulted in a guilty verdict. For the second time.
I also grew up with the shooter. He was in the class ahead of me all throughout school. He seemed like a nice guy, inasmuch as I knew him. Whenever I hear "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", I still remember singing that song in his family's basement as his cousin (my girlfriend) and sister practiced for an upcoming 4H performance. I remember going to a party at that house when their parents were out of town one wintery, wintery night in the '80s. His mother, now remarried, is the matriarch of the dairy farm we all frequent. A nicer, down-to-earth, harder working woman would be tough to find.
Sitting here, trying to figure out how to describe what I'm thinking . . . I'm at a loss. I guess what I'm trying to say is that he'd always been a decent guy. (Until now.) Sure, he's had some problems along the way and seems to have developed unhealthy relationships with girls in their teens who were too young to know better (which is what the court case was about). And, he was being punished for that.
But, overall, I sit here trying to imagine what it was that caused him to snap . . . to feel like his only way out was to shoot the prosecutor and the girl's father? You can almost "understand" if he'd turned the gun on himself, but to shoot OTHERS because you feel trapped by the guilty verdict? That's not gonna get you out of the hole you've dug. It just doesn't. Make. Sense. But, I guess that's the point when people "snap" like this: there IS no making sense of it.
I've found myself saying, so many times, "But he was always such a nice guy!" But isn't that what people said about Charles Manson? The guy next door who has bodies buried in his basement? Word is that he's had a bad reputation for many, many years . . . formed, perhaps, during the 10 years I was away? I know I'm only remembering the boy he was in high school.
I think the reason I'm having such a hard time processing this is because I'm a very . . . what's the word . . . practical (?) person. In the sense of trying to understand things. If I can see the whys, the wherefores leading up to an act, I can "get it". But this? I don't get it. And, obviously, that's something we all have to accept. We could spend all day over the "if his parents hadn't gotten divorced", the "if this . . . then that", if, if, if . . . . But, it won't do any good other than drive us crazy. What's done is done, and we can only hope, pray, chant (whatever it is that you "do") that he will get some help, that his family will find peace (now suffering the 2nd loss of a son / cousin - who drowned when we were in high school), that the victims will make full recoveries, that their families will find peace. That rage and anger will no longer rule the day.
The only "good" thing about a tragedy like this (as was the case when that young man, the only son of the coffee shop owners, died unexpectedly last winter) is that the community really rallies. We circle the wagons and envelope the families in love and support. Everyone clambers to do what they can to help. In this case, I can only hope that the family of the shooter will be supported, too. THEY are *not* "the bad guys". I hope the pain they're feeling can some how, some day, be reduced to a manageable level. And that our wonderful, wonderful friend will make a COMPLETE recovery from his 3 gunshot wounds . . . and that his family (both by blood and by "adoption" with his move here) will be stronger for the painful, life-affirming experience.