Friday, February 8, 2013

When a Killer is Close By

No doubt you have seen the news regarding Christopher Dorner, the man accused of murdering three people in Southern California, who is still on the loose.  He has quite a manifesto of people he is after, including a long list of Los Angeles police officers.

Living in a suburb of Los Angeles, we are in a very safe neighborhood that has a very low crime rate.  However, yesterday at 5am we were awoken by the sound of many helicopters hovering over our house.  Immediately we knew something had happened and turned on the news. We were shocked to hear that, within 3 streets of our house, there had been two shootings related to the search for this man. The streets where both shootings happened were on either side of our sons' school.

As it turned out, one of the high-profile police officers targeted by Chris Dorner lives 3 streets away from us.  That house was being monitored overnight, and police officers saw a truck, without headlights, driving slowly down that street approaching the house.  There are no clear reports about exactly what happened yet, but police officers ended up firing 50 rounds into that suspicious truck - only it wasn't Chris Dorner - it was 2 older Hispanic ladies delivering newspapers. (See news article here)

Two streets away, another police car was speeding towards the scene, got in an accident with another truck that looked similar to the description of Chris Dorner's truck, and started firing shots there too. Nobody was hurt in that incident (and the two women who were struck are okay).

When we heard that Chris Dorner had not, in fact, actually been in our area; and after confirming through various news reports, we sent our children to school at 9am.  Police presence was heavy, the media was everywhere, and parents gave each other sympathetic nods.  The kids were all talking about it, with stories ranging from "a killer is on the loose," to "the police are just protecting everyone."  The teachers handled the whole situation with grace and understanding.

As I drove my children up to the school, emotion overwhelmed me, and for a quick moment I had a glimpse of what other parents who have experienced school tragedies might feel like - the feeling of uncertainty, of fear, of confusion.  You want to make things normal for your child, to deflect any fear so that they will feel safe and secure, and you want to hold it together for them.  And although I only got a small glimpse of what they were feeling, I know that I never want to feel it again.

The sight of policemen patroling your kids school with guns in their belts, with police cars stationed on every corner - it should make you feel safer, but it doesn't, really. It makes you realize that we live in a cold and harsh world.

As I read many articles about Chris Dorner, many of them mentioned that in his manifesto it says that his pain and sense of injustice began as a child.  At age 6 years old, when he was a first-grade student at a Christian school, he was called a racial slur.  He punched and kicked the other kid, and then was sent to the principal's office and swatted.  While both children were punished, Chris did not understand why he was being punished for standing up for himself.  That led to a series of events in his life which continually trigged that event which happened when he was 6 years old. 

As a parent of 5 and 7 year old boys, my heart broke when I read that part of his story.  I do not condone anything he is doing - at all - but his pain makes sense to me.  How do you process something like that when you are 6 years old? The bullying? The name calling?  And then how do you process the fact that you got in trouble for what you thought was right? 

I cannot do much about the Dorner situation from my home. But his story made it all the more clearer to me how critically important it is to teach my children the right way to handle bullying at this age - and more importantly, how not to bully someone else.  When my 7 year old came home recently and jokingly made his eyes look slanted, making fun of another kid in his class, we immediately sat down with him and explained why that was wrong, and why he would never, ever do that again.  He had seen another kid do it, and didn't know that it was being mean. He just thought it was funny.  We had to teach him that behavior was wrong.  When we hear one of our boys making fun of someone else for "liking Dora the Explorer even though he's a boy," we have to teach them that they will not make fun of anyone else, no matter what.  They don't always know why what they are saying is wrong; it is our job to teach them.

It can be easy to overlook those things, laugh along with the child, or pretend that it didn't happen. But it is our job as mothers, to not only protect our own children, but to also protect the children who may not have a voice.  We need to protect those kids whose parents are not protecting them. We need to step up and intervene whenever we see any child suffering at the hands of another.

I don't know if this situation could have been averted, if what happened to Chris Dorner would have been dealt with the right way when he was 6 years old.  But 6 year old hearts are very tender, as are all young hearts.  And my heart hurts for the 6 year old Chris Dorner.  But as for the 33 year old Chris Dorner, let's pray that he is found quickly, so that no more innocent lives are taken.

1 comment:

  1. Broken children break my heart and I know they break the heart of God as well. Visiting from Missional Women