Inside Opinion

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Tag: shooting

April
22nd

In FWay, four more victims of American gun violence

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Sunday’s slaughter in Federal Way is not only closer to home than the shooting of Newtown, it’s closer to what gun violence in the United States typically looks like.

Five wound up dead, including the perpetrator of the four other fatal shootings.

He had no grandiose political or religious agenda. There was no blather about avenging drone attacks, federal tyranny or mistreatment of Palestinians. The Federal Way homicides appear to have started with a simple, fatal act of domestic violence: The killer shot his girlfriend. He then may have shot the three others to get rid of witnesses.

To all appearances, it was a squalid little dispute that escalated into a massacre because an enraged man had a handgun and shotgun close at hand.

Handguns – not military-style rifles – are weapons of choice for American criminals. They’re used in the overwhelming majority of fatal shootings.

Even mass-killers prefer them by a wide margin, according to a recently released study commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a firearms-control group.

Adam Lanza, James Holmes and other deranged killers may seek out the kind of weapons fetishized in video games and movies, but a Maurice Clemmons – who used a pistol to gun down four Lakewood officers in 2009 – is the more typical multiple shooter.

Domestic violence is sometimes behind mass killings, as was apparently the case in Federal Way. Girlfriends, wives – estranged or current – are the primary targets. A Kentucky man shot his wife, stepdaughter and three neighbors in 2010. The reported provocation: He didn’t like the way his wife cooked his eggs.
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Aug.
14th

A family’s portrait of the accused Key Peninsula shooter

We had two surprise visitors this morning: Jennifer and Reno Sorensen, mother and brother of the 20-year-old woman accused of shooting three people Saturday – apparently at random – at a store on the Key Peninsula.

Laura K. Sorensen stands charged with attempted murder. Jennifer and Reno wanted to tell the family’s side of the story – a harrowing account of living with a severely disturbed girl prone to delusions and violence.

They’d written that story and asked if we’d run it. We saw it as an opportunity to give readers a rare family perspective on a shocking incident of

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Jan.
30th

13-year-old killed in Port Orchard fit a sad profile

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Mercifully, the two Kitsap County deputies shot at the Port Orchard Walmart a week ago are out of the hospital and expected to recover.

The girl shot in the same gunfight, a Salt Lake City runaway named Astrid Valdiva, was not so fortunate. She was killed while running into the line of fire toward a man she reportedly called her lover, Anthony Allen Martinez.

Martinez: 31 years old. Valdiva: 13 years old. Sick.

Valdiva’s death with Martinez was rare, freakish and shocking. But the underlying pattern – adolescent girl hooked up with

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July
27th

Text insults, petty pride leave a good woman dead

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

What’s so shocking about Lisa Marie Melancon’s killing last Thursday was the pettiness of the dispute compared with the enormity of the crime.

It all began with an exchange of angry text messages she’d had no part in. Text messages.

While shocking, the Tacoma shooting wasn’t particularly surprising. Trivial insults and even inadvertent slights make some hotheads explode as if someone were holding a knife to their mother’s throat.

Last January, a 2-year-old girl was shot after her father and another driver reportedly wound up dueling with their cars and “exchanging gestures” on Tacoma’s East Side. Whatever driving and fingers were involved hardly warranted capital punishment. Fortunately, the girl was not killed

Another road rage incident in February, also on the East Side, claimed the life of 20-year-old Camille Love while she was on a ride with her 19-year-old brother. Someone took offense at something ­and shot repeatedly at their car. Murder, for who knows what perceived offense.

A Madigan neurosurgeon – yes, a neurosurgeon – went berserk in March 2009 after a driver cut him off on state Route 16 in Tacoma. Dr. Dennis Geyer lit out after the offender, dragged the 61-year-old man from the car, and left him with a broken nose and two black eyes. For cutting him off.
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June
18th

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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June
11th

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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Nov.
29th

A crime and a loss beyond expression

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Shock. Sympathy. Anger.

Such words hardly describe the depth of what citizens – and the staff of this newspaper – felt Sunday after hearing that four Lakewood police officers were gunned down in a Parkland coffee shop.

Maybe the shock is a good place to start. In Pierce County, deliberate killings of police officers have been rare. Prior to Sunday, only four had occurred over the last 30 years. In each case, a single officer died. Suddenly, four officers – Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Sgt. Mark Renninger – are dead in a single day.

Four officers, one shooting. There’s no precedent in state history, and only a few precedents in the nation’s history. Officers aren’t told this nearly enough, but the vast majority of citizens cherish them, respect them and deeply appreciate the risks they willingly incur protecting the innocent from the violent and the predatory. The killing of one of these valiant professionals rips a terrible wound in any community. The killing of four leaves us reeling.

It’s not just that they were killed; it’s that they were apparently killed for no other reason than they were officers. When officers are murdered in the line of duty, it is usually because they are trying to arrest a criminal or stop a crime in progress. They are killed in the heat of action, because they are in the way.

This looks like a different kind of killing. The four Lakewood officers had casually gathered, doing paperwork. The killer appears to have deliberately stalked them, singling them out solely because of the shields they wore. No one else at the scene was harmed.
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