Monday, March 22, 2021

Senseless Shootings

On Tuesday, eight people were gunned down in Atlanta at three different massage spas. The suspected gunman, Robert Aaron Long, told police that he’d been a regular customer at two of the massage spas. The spas are suspected of being as places where sex acts could be purchased—and locations where sexual exploitation may have taken place.

The suspected gunman said that the people who worked in those spas were “temptations” and needed to be “eliminated”. When the police tracked Long down through his cellphone, he was apparently on his way to Florida to kill yet more people.

Whenever I hear of a senseless event like this, it reminds me of one that struck home. When I was at a newspaper in Connecticut, a young man by the name of Sean was working for me. He had a personality that could be both hilarious and abrasive at the same time. I considered him and his fiancée, Stacey, to be friends.

On the day of Sean’s marriage, over my objections, he introduced me to Cindy who would eventually become my wife. I had objected because I was a single father and wasn’t interested in meeting new people at the time. Plus, it was obvious that when Cindy and I met, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

Nonetheless, Cindy and I eventually fell in love and married. We stayed friends with Sean and Stacey even after Sean left the newspaper. The two of them and their daughter moved to Tennessee where Stacey managed a home supply store and Sean was a stay at home dad. For several years, they visited friends in Colorado to go backpacking until eventually, in love with the mountains, they moved to Boulder.

Once there, they bought a struggling little business called Boulder Stove & Flooring. While they owned it, the business flourished. Sean and Stacey and their daughter made working there fun for the four other employees and everyone profited. They became staples in the community. Their daughter started a babysitting service.

In 2010, the fun atmosphere changed when Sean and Stacey altered the bonus program for the sales team. Robert, one of the employees, complained to the company’s accountant who explained to him that he would actually be making more money. He refused to believe it and allowed his anger to fester until it boiled over into rage.

On a Monday morning, all the employees were supposed to be in the store, but on that particular day, there was only one other salesman at the front counter. Sean and Stacey were in the backroom. Robert walked quickly past the one other employee, seeking out the owners.

By the time Robert was done, there were thirteen spent shell casings on the floor and three people were dead. After gunning down my friends with a dozen bullets, Robert put the gun to his head and killed himself with one shot.

My friends died because one of their salesmen had poor math skills and a gun.

In a bit of irony, before moving to Tennessee, Sean and Stacey and their daughter had lived in Newtown, the place of another horrific, senseless shooting in 2012.

The point of this blog? Last week in my creative writing class, we talked about what constitutes a solidly written villain in fiction.

The bad guy/girl needs to have a backstory, must be three dimensional, must show that he/she isn’t completely bad, and believes that what he/she is doing, no matter how despicable, is the correct thing to do.

The shooter in Atlanta and the shooter in Boulder? They both thought what they were doing was right. But this is real life and that doesn’t make the victims any less dead.

And the senseless shootings? They never seem to end.


Anna said...

Thomas, my sympathy in the loss of your friends. "Poor math skills and a gun," indeed.
Pretty soon everyone in the country will have been touched by a shooting. How much longer?

Donis Casey said...

Oh, man, Tom, that is a horrible story. I'm so sorry about your friends.

Rick Blechta said...

This is just a horrible story on so many levels, Tom. Not having lived in the States since I was 20, I have a certain “perspective“, but it still shocks me every time one of these events takes place. Now, in a quirk of bitter fate, ten more people have died violently in Colorado on the same day you related your story. And I'm certain gun violence like this will not end in the US. Guns rights are far too entrenched.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Apparently, the man who shot the people in the Sooper Market bought the assault rifle a mere six days before the slaughter. How I wish we would stop selling this weapon.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Apparently, the man who shot the people in the Sooper Market bought the assault rifle a mere six days before the slaughter. How I wish we would stop selling this type of weapon.