"There are no bad boys."
- Father Edward Flanagan
Do you believe that there are evil people? If you don't, and you believe that all people have redeeming qualities, have you been following the national news the last couple of weeks? During my career I have dealt with a lot of bad people, but only a few people that I would call truly evil. Fortunately, I have never had to deal with anything like the following situations.
Let me start with the execution of a sheriff's deputy in Florida. A person was stopped for a routine traffic stop whereupon he ran from the officer into a wooded area. Two deputies went into the timber to look for him, and both were shot. One deputy was hit in the leg; the other was shot eight times. Two of the eight rounds were fired into the deputy's head, and investigators speculate that the suspect stood over the officer and executed him. The deputy was a K9 handler and his dog was also killed by a gunshot. The officer left a wife and three children. The suspect also exchanged gunfire with two off duty officers who live in the area as he tried to get into a house.
After an extensive manhunt, a tactical team found the suspect hiding under a fallen tree less than 200 yards from where the deputy was murdered. He came up with a gun in his hand, the gun that he took from the fallen officer, and the tactical team eliminated the threat. The two off-duty officers are credited with driving the suspect to ground and forcing him to stay in the area.
The suspect is a Jamaican man who had apparently run from a Florida highway patrolman some years before the latest incident. He had a gun in the car that time also. He had been arrested, but never showed up for court. At the time I am writing this not much else seems to be known about this person. I suspect that they will find a long criminal past when they start digging.
As bad as that was, it doesn't hold a candle to the other incidents that occurred over the last couple of weeks. After all, you expect criminals to shoot at police officers, what you don't expect is that a person would execute an already disabled officer. You would expect him to continue to run away. It is simply another example that there are truly evil people in this country.
Is the 15-year-old punk who shot and killed his middle school principal because he had been reprimanded for having tobacco in school evil? Think back to when you were 15. What was on your mind? Mine was mostly on 15-year-old girls, hunting and sports. I am sure we will hear about how he was picked on at school, or had trouble with authority, or whatever and that is why he killed an innocent person who was dedicated to children. Well, I was picked on at school, and I had trouble with authority from time to time; and I never even thought about shooting anyone. Are there evil people in this country?
Is the man who would execute a police officer, or a boy who would shoot a school principal, more or less evil than a person who would go into a school in Colorado and kidnap young girls, threaten to kill them and begin to sexually assault them? And of course, he didn't stop there. When a tactical team makes entry to try and stop this person he shoots and kills a 16-year-old girl and then himself. If that is not an evil person, then what is an evil person?
How about the person who goes into a one room schoolhouse in Amish country, takes 8- to 12-year-old girls hostage, and then shoots them in the head as the state patrol arrives. He also shot himself after shooting the young girls. At the time of this writing, six of the children have died.
And for what reason, because he had molested young relatives 20 years ago and was "dreaming" about doing it again? So you go into a school and shoot 8-year-old girls instead of maybe seeking professional help, or how about going to a nice, quiet, remote spot and simply shooting yourself. Leave the innocent children out of it.
I have decided that yes, there are truly evil people living among us, many of whom we probably have no idea just how bad they can be. I don't think I agree with Father Flanagan. Perhaps if he had said that most boys are not bad, I might be persuaded. My only comfort with all this news is that we are very fortunate that we still have good men and women willing to put on a badge and face the evil in our country.
- Keith Mehlin is chief of the Council Bluffs Police