Inside Opinion

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Tag: McKenna


When “self-defense” isn’t self-defense

Last week’s shooting of a thief/innocent scrap recycler (take your pick) in the McKenna area produced one of the most heated online arguments I’ve seen in a while.

The police think the 69-year-old who killed the 20-year-old committed a crime. But he has a slew of defenders out there who – knowing no more than the police know – have decided he’s a hero.

The shooter may have a great self-defense case, for all I know. It’s his admirers who worry me. Most of them have some very relaxed notions about when a “law-abiding” gun-toter can shoot a suspected thief.

Follow the comments and you’ll learn that:

• The 20-year-old was taking pipe from a ditch across the road, and the pipe might have belonged to the shooter, so the kid deserved to get shot.

• The kid and a buddy were doing it after dark, so he deserved to get shot.

• There’s crime in the area, and deputies are slow to respond, so the kid deserved to get shot.

• He tried to get away in his pickup, so he deserved to get shot.

• He resisted a citizens’ arrest, so he deserved to get shot.

• He might have been a criminal, so he deserved to get shot.

• My favorite: The pipes were in a county ditch, and county ditches belong to the public, so he deserved to get shot on behalf of you and me.

There’s no way I could have made this stuff up.
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Gun owners had best know defense from offense

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

To read the online discussions about the shooting of a 20-year-old in the McKenna area Wednesday, it appears that some people regard any shooting by a homeowner as justified.

Doesn’t matter if his house hasn’t been broken into. Doesn’t matter if he’s being threatened. Doesn’t even matter if the person he shoots isn’t on his property.

Nobody yet knows all the facts about the McKenna shooting, and 69-year-old William David Morgan – who reportedly shot and killed Joseph Tobeck – has not had his day in court. What the police have reported so far, though, can’t be remotely construed as a case of self-defense.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department gave the following account:

Tobeck and another 20-year-old, who reportedly were collecting and selling scrap metal, found a collection of old metal pipes in a ditch across the road from Morgan’s home. (A roadside drainage ditch is a public right-of-way, not private property.)

After they loaded the pipe into a pickup, Morgan yelled from across the road, accusing them of theft. The surviving 20-year-old said they told Morgan they didn’t intend to steal from him.
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