Happy New Year! May 2011 be more peaceful than 2010.
I've been keeping a record of shootings in the Eugene/Springfield area here in Oregon, and it's not looking so rosy. Personally, I didn't exactly pop any corks to celebrate. Instead, I made this blog.
Oh, sure, call me a grump. Auld Lang Syne, right? It's better to think of the bright side of things. Water under the bridge. But let's not tell that to the families of the victims, okay? This'll just be whispered about after all those pesky news articles fade away and we go on to ignore the daily barrage of other shootings. Just flip the channel over to "Dancing With the Stars" and fugetaboutit. Not me. Or you, I hope. Or our lawmakers.
Consider, if you will, that in 2010, the Eugene/Springfield area had at least thirteen shootings, encompassing neighboring towns in Lane County as well. This includes at least 3 suicides, 3 (possibly 4) homicides, 3 attempted homicides, 1 fatal and 1 non-fatal law enforcement shooting, and 2 fatal self-defense shootings. (Of course, this doesn't include other suicides or accidental shootings, since, apparently, no one actually records those or reports on those -- hospitals are not required to report them to anyone). And these are just the incidents that included firearms. There were a couple other non-vehicular murders that didn't use firearms, as well.
Compare this with only about 6 incidents in 2009 that I could find, five of them fatal, and 7 in 2008, 3 of which were fatal. Shootings have doubled.
So what? What does it matter? We can't change peoples' behaviors, can we? Or reduce guns used in crimes, right? Think again. It's not easy, but we can do it if we voice our concerns and help people, and our lawmakers, see more peaceful and safer alternatives. Keep reading this blog, and you'll find those alternatives.
For now, the first thing you can do is pay attention to the news that you hear, and help others to do so. Spread the word on events and the importance of preventing gun violence -- striking up conversations with friends, sharing on Facebook, or letters to the editor.
The second thing you can do is contact me to volunteer or donate. No, don't stop reading just cuz I said that. I don't expect much. You'd be surprised how even the tiniest one-time involvement can make a big difference.
Now, for a listing of shooting events in 2010, for the Eugene/Springfield area:
2/6/10: Ronald Leo Langlois (44) shot himself while working at his job in a train yard in Eugene. Initially it looked like a homicide. Once again, mentally-unstable people shouldn't have guns! LINK
4/3/10: Uriel Gonzalez Hernandez, 18, gang member and illegal immigrant, shot up the home of a sleeping couple and their baby in Springfield, mistaking the home for a rival gang member's (Oopsie!). Luckily, no one was injured. LINK
7/26/10: An unidentified male shows up at a local Chinese restaurant with fresh bullet wounds. He lives, but apparently doesn't share much with police. I doubt it was the Kung POW chicken! LINK
9/20/10: This one is especially tragic. A father, Richard Rauscher, despondent over a recent divorce, shot to death his two little girls, Aidan (9) and Eryn (7), in their sleep, then shot himself to death, near Junction City. My son was friends with one of the girls' best friends. Apparently Rauscher would go over to neighbors' homes to weep about his situation, but apparently no one stopped to think he might harm himself or his children. Did the mother know there was a gun in the house, I wonder? Once again, firearms don't belong in homes with children, or homes with mentally unstable people! LINK
10/28/10: Mark Casterline, 49, threatened Lane County Sherriff's deputy Sgt. Dave Rogers with a knife. in Veneta, after Rogers responded to a domestic dispute between Casterline and Casterline's sister. A beanbag round didn't stop Casterline, to Rogers shot him down. LINK
11/13/10: As a crowd of youths gathered outside a rap concert at Aminata's Bar and Grill in Eugene, gunfire rang out between one youth at the door of the restaurant and a group on the other side of the street. Bullets hit buildings and cars. By some miracle, only one 21-year old male bystander was wounded. None of the shooters were identified or captured. LINK
11/26/10: Two men tried to rob a Dutch Brother's drive-though coffee stand in Eugene. Despite a company policy against gun possession, the unnamed male barista pulled out a gun and shot one of the robbers, Sirus Combs, 27. The other robber got away and hasn't been caught. Though the barista was deemed to be justified in his actions, and within his rights to protect himself, I can't help but wonder if the robber had to die. After getting the money, Combs told the barista to turn around, and the barista thought he was about to be executed, so he pulled his own gun and had a shootout. The second robber, Brandon Lee Plunk, 27, also exchanged fire and then ran off, and was eventually caught. I wonder, now, how many more similar robberies will wind up in death because of his actions, as future robbers shoot first. LINK For comparison, here's a LINK to a story about an earlier, similar robbery of a Dutch Brother's stand which didn't go that way, and turned out relatively fine.
12/15/10: Michael Thomas Mason, 27, an Afghanistan war veteran and medic who was suffering from an acute episode of post-traumatic stress syndrome, randomly shot at vehicles at the Valley River Center Mall parking lot, in Eugene. Police caught up to him and chased him to Santa Clara. Though Mason dropped his 9mm out the window, his refusal to respond to police instructions to exit the car and his erratic behavior within the car led the two policemen to shoot him multiple times. Mason lived, but is now a paraplegic. In a sad irony, Mason's father was a veteran of the Eugene police and had worked side-be-side with one of the shooting officers. Yet again, even though Mason was well-trained in firearm usage and safety, guns don't belong in homes with mentally-unstable people! LINK
12/27/10: In the small town of Lowell, southeast of Eugene, Shawn Lorenzo Gamble, 36, had drank too much and fought with his stepfather, Jimmie Allen Montgomery, 62. Montgomery threatened to shoot Gamble with his handgun, so Gamble tried to get his own gun, but was stopped by other family. It didn't stop Gamble, though, who attacked Montgomery anyway. The stepfather then made good on his threat, shooting Gamble, but Gamble didn't stop. So Montgomery emptied his magazine into him, killing him. It was ruled justified, but I wonder, if Montgomery hadn't made the first threat to protect himself with his gun, if things would have turned out differently. LINK
Oh, and as a post-script, there was also THIS case (from 12/8/10) of a man who killed his landowner and buried her in the back yard. So far they haven't revealed how she died, so I haven't counted it in the "tally" for 2010's shootings.
Did anyone other than myself notice that half of these shootings occurred in the last couple months of the year? Was it something in the egg nog?
So there you have it, 2010 shootings. Let's work together to make next year better, eh?