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There are times when you encounter the unexpected. I was just walking to the neighborhood store when I heard the sound of live drums.  Not a totally uncommon sound in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Gardena, CA. where more than a few quinceanaras take place, but these drums we're different.  They sounded not like the sound of Mexican music, but of Hip Hop. It sounded like R&B.

Live R&B? That's something far too rare these days.

It was something to investigate, so I did, and I found a myself in the midst a not only a family tragedy, but also a family of uncommon strength which I could not have expected or
predicted.

The Story goes like this...

MORENO VALLEY: Dead suspect apparently related to those he killed

The suspect in the shooting deaths of two Moreno Valley residents and the wounding of a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy remained unidentified Wednesday night, July 23, but family members of the dead man and woman believe the suspect is a relative.

I'€™m in mourning, said a man who declined to give his name Wednesday as he ushered reporters away from the house where the first shooting happened Tuesday, on Delphinium Avenue in Moreno Valley. The house was filled with mourners, and outside, the mood among relatives was tense.

About 2 a.m. Wednesday more than 24 hours after the violence began€” a sheriff’s K-9 captured the suspect’s scent and led deputies to the body. It was found in thick brush in the foothill area past the north end of Pigeon Pass Road.

Investigators found an assault rifle nearby that they believed was used in the shootings. An autopsy will determine whether
the suspect died at his own hand or that of the deputy, who returned fire.

No additional suspects are being sought.

And more like this.
Home / Breaking News
MORENO VALLEY: Gunman, 1st victim in fatal shooting spree ID’d

The man responsible for fatally shooting two people and wounding a sheriff’s deputy has been identified.

Alex Anderson, a 34-year-old Moreno Valley resident, was the gunman found dead in some thick brush near the northern terminus of Pigeon Pass Road, said sheriff’s Deputy Albert Martinez.

Investigators found Anderson’s body after a manhunt that lasted more than 24 hours.

Sheriff’s officials said Anderson’s shooting spree began at an unknown time on Tuesday, July 22, inside a house in the 25500 block of Delphinium Avenue. The victim was identified as 58-year-old Derek Hardy of Moreno Valley.

The second shooting was reported at 2:24 p.m. about seven miles from the house at a Shell gas station at Sunnymead Ranch Parkway and Old Lake Drive. The victim, 74-year-old Wilma Patterson, was found dead in her vehicle.

Anderson does not appear to have a criminal record in Riverside County.
Three people dead, including two innocent victims and an armed attacker who had been using an assault rifle while wearing body armor.  All were related. In response to this horror, using live speeches, with live musical performances and deep felt hugs, instead of pointing fingers and shouting recriminations this family found a way to begin the healing, rather than continue to spread anger, pain and hate.


While on my trip to the local store I had heard the music being generated by the family of both the suspect and the victims as they did something quite amazing and unique. They used music, and peace, and love, as a vehicle to attempt to heal and recover from a violent tragedy that most of us could hardly even imagine being involved in.

This is how they responded.




And this is what I learned from event organizer Marshawn Deon Williams, grandson of victim Wilma Patterson.
You don't have to look around to see people don't move with love like that anymore.  Can we get one day out of the year for peace?  To get an understanding of what peace is about? Real communication and body language, of who we are one as humans? That's what the peace day is about, to come together as one.  It's a safe environment here, everyone can come together because it's peace and love.

My grandma, she taught me how to give, to treat people kindly, to love each other as one. 
Build self esteem, love yourself first. My father was from army and it's was hard love.  That didn't fit well with me.

[We all need to] just focus a little on the peace and love. (Marshawn, second from the let with family and supportive friends)

Prior to this tragedy Marshawn had begun his own non-profit at www.apeacemovement.org
 to focus on his own goals of promoting a more peaceful and humane world .

Undaunted by this tragedy that has affected his own family he has rallied, using the resources of his non-profit, to bring them together, to focus on the positive rather than the scream to the hills in frustration, to wallow in the pain of loss and inconsolable anger.

He, and his family, have choosen to reach toward the nature of our better angels, rather than the devils hidden in our hearts.

It seems almost too much to believe, and I admit I sat more than a little stunned at the entire event.  The depth of the loss contrasted with the nearly joyous response of the family and their friends, would seem to some who have grown jaded and cynical growing up - as I did - in the long shadows of South Central L.A. where life is considered cheap, temporary and expendable, to see such a heartfelt joyous display in the midst of such heartbreak.

Statistically speaking, the William's and their extended family are unique. But then maybe not that unique. In America today 32,000 people are killed by guns every year. That averages to 92 people per day.

92 people every Day.

Those who support the continuation of guns rights without limit would argue that the only way to curtain and slow down this death toll is to promote even more gun ownership, and even more examples of concealed and open carry. They argue that..
"Only a good guy with a gun, stops a bad guy with a gun."
But who exactly was the "good guy" in this case?  It appears that the attacker ended his own life with his own weapon without the interference of law enforcement of an outsider.  Considering the fact that the gunman was armed with an M-16 and Body Armor it's difficult to see exactly who might be wandering around the city to stop him and be better armed than he was at the time.

Again, who exactly and precisely was the "good guy" here?

The fact is that the vast majority of gun deaths in the U.S. are not gang shootings (about 619 per year according to the FBI) or robberies (553 per year) or the result of other felony crimes such as rape (324 per year). So the theory that there's some "good guy" available to come swooping in like Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson's Death Wish are often far from the reality of the situation. You can find a far higher number of gun deaths as a result of arguments between individuals (1,844 per year) and other arguments (3,684 per year).

Who exactly is there, ready, willing and able, to end all these arguments in a peaceful manner when guns are at play?

But all those statistics pale very sadly to the number of gun suicides (19,392 in 2010) which happen every year, and happen to account for over 62% of all gun deaths in the nation.  Many of these suicides are not just one where the shooting only kills themself, they often take a family member, or several, with them before they finally do the dark deed to themselves.

We see the death toll on the news day in, and day out. Nameless victims and vilified perpetrators as we are endlessly informed by our film media and local news. We grow outraged when those victims are the most innocent, the youngest - of even the oldest as in this case with 75 year-old Wilma Peterson - the most vulnerable and the least threatening. They drive us into the streets to protest, into the halls of congress to demand change.

But we don't rise up to protest the majority of these killings. Not the suicides, because rushing to assign "blame" and pointing fingers at the "bad guy" quickly becomes far less emotionally satisfying when that "evil" person is the victim themselves. Instead we shrug, and knowing nod together about the unknowingness of it all. We don't speak out that something should be done to curb the torrent of suicides by gun. No, we don't always have warning signs, but then very often we don't act on the warning signs that we have.  As I've previously written...
For example, warning signs had been raised in the case of Jared Loughner who had been highlighted as potentially "dangerous" by his college counselor who had him reported to campus police and banned from the school until he went into treatment, his concerned parents had taken his shotgun away from him and restricted his access to his car.  [Seung-Hui Cho the Virginia Tech shooter] had been referred to a counselor due to statements which had concerned his teachers but he told 3 separate counselors that he didn't have any "suicidal or homicidal" tendencies.  There were various indicators and concerns by Maj Hasan's coworkers that he was "stressed" with his upcoming deployment and his internal conflict with going to war against fellow muslims. Christopher Dorner's own emotional instability is what led to his firing by the LAPD. There were indications that Aaron Alexis the Navy Shipyard shooter was suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress and paranoid delusions, he attempted to gain treatment though the VA for sleep related issues, but was not evaluated for emotional or mental health issues.  Adam Lanza clearly had a variety of emotional issues for which his mother attempted to use guns as a form of "therapy". James Holmes, the Aurora Theater shooter, had attempted suicide several times, but still was allowed access to firearms.
We may not have good answers to prevent problems such as this. The legislation proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting would not seem to help if these weapons were purchased legally and the suspect never reached a point where he needed to reload while being challenged.

Our solutions seem insufficient and small bore. Weak and lacking.

The suggestion of a Gun Violence Restraining Order which has been brought forward by some Sacramento lawmakers may make a difference by allowing family, friends and co-workers to raise an alarm when someone exhibits mentally unstable, violent or threatening behavior and - temporarily, until that status can be confirmed - make arrangements for any guns or high capacity weapons in their possession to be retrieved by law enforcement.

There seems to be little more that can be legally done following the establishment of gun ownership as a personal individual right by the Heller decision of 2008.  Even today a Federal Judge has decided the D.C. handgun ban is Unconstitutional.

There is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,€ Judge Frederick Scullin said in an opinion.

€œTherefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional,€ he added in his 19-page ruling.

The court ordered the city to allow residents to carry handguns outside their homes and to let non-residents carry them as well.

If you look at this wiki page on Gun Deaths (which like so many other reports on this issue completely omits the number and rate of suicides which would dwarf all other killings) the District of Columbia has only 3.6% rate of gun ownership contrasted with Louisiana which has a rate of 44.1%, yet the rate of gun murders in D.C. (16.5 per 100k citizens) is well over twice the rate compared to the entire state of Louisiana (7.7 per 100k).  Of course it's also fair to note that DC's overall murder rate - including those without guns - is also double that of Louisiana (21.8% per 100k vs 9.6% per 100k), so although some might be tempted to argue that simply bringing DC's gun ownership rate all the way up to Louisiana's might be a "deterent" that wouldn't seem to apply when looking at the rest of the overall murder rate.

Either way, our policy makers have so far failed us - utterly - in finding a way to effectively address this problem.

Hence, it falls to families like the Williams-Patterson's to find a way to make a difference.  To turn away from the endless cycle of victimization, recrimination and retribution which we seem so entrapped within, and to push us - little by little, step by step - to accept the ideals of forgiveness, of grace, of embracing the joy and happiness we should all share in the lives of those we've had the good fortune to know, and to love, rather than fall prey to Hate for those who - in their own misguided paths - have taken those loved ones away.

Our greatest weapon in this War on Gun Death, may indeed be something as simple and as powerful as forgiveness - and Hope.

Vyan

3:36 PM PT: The Family were taking donations as the show as they still have to make and pay for funeral arrangements.  If you'd like to contribute you can do so on Marshawn's United Dream Factory website here.


Originally posted to Vyan on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Black Kos community, and Shut Down the NRA.

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