2/28/2007

Bizarre News

Imagine this....you are a mother of two sons. It's a weekday afternoon and you are home with the boys while your husband is a several houses down the road, working on a house he's rehabbing. Suddenly, you hear a commotion outside. Someone is calling your younger son's name, trying to get him to come out of the house.

The next thing you hear is something pelting your house. Your sense of panic starts to rise. Your oldest son grabs a baseball bat and goes to the front door to investigate. He opens it to find up what witnesses will later describe as "twelve to thirty" people on your front lawn, all looking to fight.

You grab one of your husband's hunting rifles to defend both your sons and your home. Neighbors will hear a melee, and several will call 911 to report a fight in progress. Your husband hears about a problem and comes running down the street.

He and other neighbors will report to police that he had to literally fight his way through his own front lawn to reach his family.

You and your boys are clearly outnumbered. Even at the lower end, twelve teenagers on your front lawn, on your property, who refuse to leave, who want to jump your son, pose a serious threat.

Your younger son also grabs one of your husband's hunting rifles. He joins you and his brother at the front of the house.

Shots are fired. At this point, no one is certain if they were warning shots, or if you were trying to kill a trespasser, before he killed you or one of your sons.

The police receive calls on their radios. The 'fight in progress' has been changed to 'shots fired.' They arrive to discover that two of the trespassing teenagers have been hit. A 15-year old has been injured. A 16-year old will die.

What comes next is a quick and bizarre application of the law. You and your younger son are arrested, booked, and held in police custody pending bond. Yours is set at $1 million.

Sound too strange to be true? This is exactly what happened in a St. Louis, Missouri suburb last night. And mother and son are still in police custody today.

Rather than being treated as crime victims, they are being held as the perpetrators of a crime. St. Louis County police seem far less concerned that their suburban home was literally stormed by a gang of teenagers seeking to do serious bodily harm to one or more of the residents. Even at the lowest estimate of twelve teens, they could have easily killed the boy they sought to fight.

Never mind that they were trespassing; that the older son with the baseball bat first told them to leave the property. No doubt the rifle-wielding mother and younger son did the same before things took a turn for the worse and shots were fired.

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I opened my front door to find an unruly mob, of any age, I would panic. Mere seconds seem to have truly counted here. Perhaps mom had to make the decision to either take a few of the precious seconds to grab a rifle to defend her older son at the front door, or call the police for help.

Maybe she thought for a nanosecond about the response time such a call would take, and her maternal instinct kicked in and she chose to take the immediate action of aiding her sons. Maybe she made the wrong choice. But it seems that, in the heat of a literal battle, this is some serious Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Should she and her son be in jail this morning? Their home was literally under siege. And the trespassers refused to leave, instead escalating the situation. Initially, when no one in the home answered the taunts and threats coming from the front lawn, they began pelting the house with rocks.

What would the gang do next? Were they themselves armed? What lengths were they willing to take to get to this son? All of this had to be running through the mother's mind.

The entire situation is irrational. But few, certainly not the St. Louis County police, seem concerned about what the intent of the "twelve to thirty" young men on the front lawn last night.

Any reasonable human being would feel that his or her life was in danger. Certainly, a parent reads that situation with an even greater sense of urgency--the sharp pang of instinct that causes one to protect a child or children, at any cost.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has this account:

In an interview Monday evening, King [the father] told a reporter he had given police a surveillance video recording of the incident. He said he installed the camera at his home after past harassment.

Records show that St. Louis County police were called to the Kings' home 10 times over the past year, for a variety of problems, including a burglary, fights and destruction of property. Officers wrote reports in only two incidents; copies were unavailable Tuesday.

Michael King Sr. said his family has been targeted for years because he is an outspoken community activist who tries to combat crime. He said he legally owns the guns involved and used them for hunting.


Before writing this, I spent the morning researching the gun laws in Missouri. If you'd like to see for yourself, click here to download a pdf version. Really, it's a mere three pages. A quick read.

Neither of the so-called offenders violated the state's gun laws. Early news reports last night pointed out that discharging a weapon in St. Louis County is legal if one feels that one's life is in danger.

What reasonable person would not have felt his or her life was in danger in that scenario--outnumbered four-to-one, or ten-to-one, depending on the accounts. So where is the disconnect?

It is highly unlikely that this family will be able to raise the money to free the mother and son on bail. Not to mention financing the undoubtedly lengthy legal battle in front of them.

They will first need to hire a criminal defense attorney to address the charges filed by the Prosecuting Attorney in St. Louis County. No doubt the bottom-feeding families of the actual perpetrators in this case will file civil charges against the family as well.

If you are just as baffled and concerned by what you're reading, and want to make your thoughts known, share them with the Prosecuting Attorney. You can email the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at letters@post-dispatch.com

9 comments:

Brian said...

I think they could have hid in the house and waited for the police to arrive but at the same time I think $1m bond is very excessive for what's probably going to be a manslaughter charge.

Anonymous said...

I think the most telling part is that they had problems in the past and made calls to the police with no result other than two reports that were filed. I'm sure that played a part in her not even bothering with the cops.

Aspeth said...

Hey, Brian. I hear you. But at the same time, I'm more inclined to agree with 'anon' on this one. And I still go back to the thought that they didn't know if this group was themselves armed.

But ultimately, I'm opposed to even the manslaughter charge. They were *defending themselves* I find it hard to believe that these kids were just hanging out on the front lawn yelling obscenities, particularly when the father, once he arrived, had to fight his way through the crowd on the front lawn.

Kevin said...

That is shit. It seems like such a clear case of defense, and to set $1 million bail on it is pretty terrible in my opinion.

I am not a gun advocate by any means, but if I had been involved in a situation where a large number of visibly angered people showed up on my doorstep with what can only be deciphered as intent to harm myself or especially my family, I would have grabbed the rifle myself.

I'm going to leave it at that because otherwise this comment will be as long as the entry with a sparkly liberal rant, but yes. Ridiculous handling of the situation.

Life Learning Today said...

what a horrific and tragic story. When bullies are allowed to triumph over innocents, then we are all in danger.

Thanks for checking out my blog. If you get a chance maybe you could take my survey I have going on: http://lifelearningtoday.blogspot.com/2007/02/using-blogger-to-make-six-figure-income.html

Aspeth said...

Hi Kevin...I couldn't agree more. I'm truly shocked that this family is facing felony charges in a case that frankly screams "self-defense."

These folks sound like the kind of people we'd all be proud to have as neighbors. It seems like they were big-time catalysts for stopping crimes in the neighborhood, and the criminals didn't like that. As it turns out, sounds like the police didn't, either.

Aspeth said...

Hi 'Life', thanks for stopping by. I'm going to echo Kevin's sentiment here and point out that I am by no means a card-carrying member of the NRA, but this story really jumped off the page and, to me, is the perfect illustration of the rare and extreme cases where you must defend your life and your family's lives with lethal force.

It's a truly sad and baffling story.

Anonymous said...

i can hardly beleive what i'm reading! i own many guns...including assault rifles. i'm not so stupid as to think i can go outside and shoot people in my front yard for "yelling" and "throwing rocks". if these 12-30 people were a viable threat the grown man would have been not allowed to "fight" his way through the crowd! they could have easily overpowered him. once they step inside...shoot! if they have had so much trouble in the past they should have been better prepared for an actual confrontation. this fool put his family at risk with his outspoken behaviour. some battles you cant win. a smart man picks his battles... with the world the way is now you cant think "it's me against the world" you WILL lose! they have dug their own hole. the "mob" wins!

Anonymous said...

The first commenter says they should have hidden in the home and waited for the police. The problem is, the house was being bombarded with rocks, and the police had, EIGHT TIMES, shown that they didn't give a damn.

Ladies and gentlemen, chavs have invaded America. We are all fucked.

Chavs are third or fourth generation welfare bums, who gang up on innocent victims in massive numbers (usually 15 or 20 gang up on one or two passersby) and beat the holy shit out of them. When the police are called, the police do little or nothing to the perps, but will aggressively go after the victims, since the victims usually have jobs and will pay the fines. The chavs never go to court or pay fines. They do, however, have many, many babies (15 to 20 is not uncommon for a single male via different females), all of which need welfare and end up becoming chavs themselves. A single generation of chavs can create a next-generation 10x the size of a normal generational population. And they start young, at 13 or so.

They have nothing to do all day but attack other people and destroy property, get intoxicated, and have sex.

So in response, the first commenter says we should huddle in a corner and just hope hope hope that all will be well... when it's been PROVEN that such will not happen? What the fuck? We don't DO that in this country. We stick up for ourselves, and our neighbors. Hide in the corner??? And let a gang smash apart everything that's dear to us, that we've worked at miserable jobs for and missed family time for? Not in THIS country. If that's how the first commenter wishes to deal with the issue, I extend my sincerest wishes to him/her for leaving this country and departing for Britain, where just such a policy exists.... and is failing miserably.