Our home town of Winthrop, Massachusetts is normally a pretty boring place, at least in terms of crime. Kelly and I read the police blotter every week in the local paper, and most of the time it is pretty vanilla. Don’t get me wrong, we like the fact that Winthrop does not have the levels of crime that other places do. We somewhat affectionately refer to Winthrop as “Mayberry-by-the-Sea” because the sorts of things that happen around here are usually pretty small.
Last weekend Kelly and I were away from home at a craft fair in West Medford, Massachusetts when we got word that something had happened just around the corner from our house in Winthrop. It first it was not very clear – something about a truck crashing into a building, and then someone involved in that crash shooting at people. It took a few hours before we started getting a clearer picture of what had happened, and even then it was still just bits and pieces.
When we got back to Winthrop that Saturday evening, we had to find a different way to get home because the cordon around the crime scene extended far around the area, including parts of Cross Street, where we normally would have pulled up to get to our house on Almont. We knew things were bad because there were police cars everywhere, and not just from Winthrop. We saw State Police, Boston, Revere, and Chelsea police in addition to Winthrop police.
Within the next day or two, things had cleared up significantly. A guy had stolen a plumbing supply truck and sped through the streets of Winthrop, going about twice the speed limit. He turned from Revere Street onto Shirley Street, speeding down the street past all of the parked cars that narrowed the road considerably. As a result he hit a white SUV more-or-less head on, causing it to crash into a fence and some hedges literally within sight of our back deck. He then lost control of the truck and crashed it into an unoccupied brick building at the corner of Cross Street and Shirley Street. After he got out of the truck, he was met by people who had come out of their homes thinking they could help after the crash. But the guy was armed with two pistols, and at some point he started shooting. First he shot Ramona Cooper, an Air Force veteran and current VA employee, three times in the back. Then he apparently bypassed the opportunity to shoot several other people, and instead went after David Green, another Air Force veteran and a retired Massachusetts State Trooper. Both victims were black, and the shooter whose name I refuse to use was white. It became clear by Monday that there was some sort of racial motivation for what this man had done. He had targeted only black people, and had apparently was responsible for numerous racist and anti-Semitic writings.
Last night there was a memorial service, and it was pretty well-attended. Unfortunately I am heard of hearing and could not hear much of what was said, but it was still a lovely event. I hope people are a little more aware of what is happening around them, and I sincerely hope that people around here will stand up against racism when they see or hear it. That’s what needs to happen.
Try to do right, and be the kind of person your kids (or your dog) thinks you are.
Much love to all,