Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fairfax Police Shooting

This is a rough subject, but I have a few words to say on it. Questions are surfacing, from several quarters, about why so-called assault weapons are legal, the ban on them having lapsed last fall. I expect calls for a re-instatement of that ban to surface soon, and despite the emotions involved those calls need to be addressed firmly.

The question I have relates not to the weapons but to the shooter. What was he doing out on bond? He clearly was a danger to himself and society. I have extracted this timeline from an article in the WaPo, dated 19 May 06, “Shooter Languished Between Delusions, Despair,” by Paul Duggan:

“On April 16, Easter, he said, the parents took Kennedy [the shooter] to Woodburn, an outpatient facility. After being examined and sent home with medication, Kennedy was back at the center two days later. That time, the acquaintance said, Woodburn officials called other psychiatric facilities to find a bed for him and arranged for him to be admitted to Potomac Ridge…

“He stayed at Potomac Ridge for about seven hours April 18 before climbing out a window in the early evening. After carjacking a Toyota by bluffing that he had a gun, he drove from Rockville back to Centreville, to the ex-girlfriend's house.

“"He just started going off on one of his weird conversations... He right away told me he stole the car. He said he had gone to some mental hospital and was being treated like an animal, and he couldn't stand being there." She urged him to surrender to police…”

“Baker [another friend of Kennedy’s] said he and two other young people at his home persuaded their troubled friend to turn himself in, and those two teenagers followed Kennedy as he drove to the [Fairfax County Police] Sully station.

“The experience of being locked up seemed to aggravate Kennedy's mental instability, said his friends and the acquaintance who has spoken with his parents. Besides his brief stay at Potomac Ridge, Kennedy spent about 66 hours in the Fairfax County jail, then a night in a Montgomery County cell after he was extradited there on the carjacking charge, before he was released on bond April 22.”

Operative phrase: RELEASED ON BOND APRIL 22. Although I’m not a member of the criminal justice system, I understand why we have bail and I also understand the constraints the system operates under. However, I think that when you have a young man who has escaped once, hi-jacked a car and exhibits all the signs of being dangerously unbalanced, you need to keep him locked up in the proper facility.

God bless the two officers who died, and God bless those who are out on patrol now. We should all ask tough questions from our local authorities on how similar cases are handled. Dangerous persons are far less dangerous to society when they aren’t free to act.


Post a Comment

<< Home