Reflections/Connections

Did you hear about Christopher Dormer in Hettinger, N.D.?Posted Feb. 28, 2013

Just a few of the stories of a tradgey.
Just a few of the stories of a tradgey.

by MAE WAGNER

Here, the collective psyche of Southern California has been bombarded with the vendetta, manifesto, manhunt and death of Dormer, the fired Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer who went on a killing rampage. For days and weeks, newspapers have blasted the latest headlines and stories across their pages. Evv-erry single day. Television stations have devoted entire programs to the rampage.

There is no escape.

The smiling face of the killer was everywhere. Bald head. Wide smile. Straight white teeth. Camouflage shirt. In another picture often broadcast, he is wearing a blue uniform and a badge, shaking hands with the former LAPD chief. Those were obviously happier times for him, before he felt he was unfairly fired.

Revenge must have smoldered in him for some time before it was unleashed. His killing spree began by murdering the daughter of the man who represented him at his dismissal hearing. He murdered her fiancée at the same time. What greater revenge could there be than killing someone’s child?

At first, this killing seemed random, senseless—until the connection was made to Dorner. He published a ranting manifesto online and there were more police officers on his hit list.

Before the violent and deadly end to this rampage, two newspaper delivery women were wounded, two officers wounded and two officers killed. And that doesn’t even count the damage, the other wounds, visible and invisible, inflicted along the way.

As the two women, a mother and daughter, were delivering newspapers, they had the misfortune of driving a truck similar to Dorner’s. Over-anxious officers riddled their truck with bullets, wounding the two women in the process.

In the meantime, Dorner headed east. In Riverside, two officers in a patrol car happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dorner fired on the patrol car, killing once officer and wounding the other. After that, he headed for the San Bernardino Mountains where they found his burned truck in Big Bear, a community that caters to tourists, especially skiers during the winter season. (Big Bear is where my oldest son and his family live, just an hour or so away from my home.)

It was snowing hard in Big Bear and the news reports showed pictures of fully decked out SWAT team members with snow swirling around them as they continued the manhunt. The story made the national news and I wondered what people in other parts of the country thought when they saw the snowy scene. Southern California? Snow?

My brother, Paul, called from Minnesota to check on us. He knew enough about geography here to know this was happening close to our home. I reassured him that we were in no danger nor was I too worried about my son and his family at that point.

The community of Big Bear has a lot of vacation homes so many of the cabins and other houses don’t have full-time residents. When police went door-to-door, checking the residences, if there was no answer and no signs of forced entry, they moved on. As it turned out, Dorner was hiding out in a cabin not far from the police command center.

Without going into too much detail, he ultimately fled that cabin, tied a couple up, stole their car and headed down the mountain. Before it was all over, he carjacked another vehicle and did not injure the driver. His beef was with law enforcement so the “civilians” he encountered were not victims of his wrath. As police were closing in, he entered another cabin; in the intense firefight that ensued, he killed one police officer and wounded another. Tear gas grenades were fired into the cabin, it caught fire and that was the end of Dorner. The charred remains in the ashes of the cabin were positively identified as him.

But that was not the end of the media coverage. Then—and understandably so—it focused on the funerals of the fallen officers and other stories related to Christopher Dorner.

In the meantime, there was another shooting spree in the Los Angeles area; it was reported on the inside pages of the newspaper. (There were no police officers involved this time.) In this case, a young man killed a woman in his parents’ home, took their car, high-jacked another, flat-out executed its driver, drove onto a construction site, killed a worker there and wounded another and then took his own life. No motive has been reported.

And, of course, not long before all of this, we had the Connecticut massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This tragic event has to be burned into the psyche of our entire nation because, this time, innocent children were executed. And before that, of course, there is any number of incidents I could mention. Gabrielle Giffords. The theater in Aurora, Colorado. Columbine. The horrific list goes on.

This does not even address the murders that are reported daily in our local newspaper. They are so common, they only warrant a paragraph or two on the inside pages.

Violence fatigue. It is overwhelming.

I’m not talking about gun control, pro or con. I’m not talking about the mental health system. I have no answers. If it weren’t for my family being here, I think I would move someplace where the headlines are about a coal train derailing or a yarn bomber decorating the landscape, or the home team winning a championship or how much hay my horse needs, depending on the season. Yes, there are times I would like to “go home” again.

Of course, there is another answer. Stop reading the newspapers. Stop watching the news.

Oh, that it could be that simple!

 

As always, thank you for sharing this time with me. maedaze@verizon.net