A shield against violence

In Opinion

So much for the love; February has been a smoking gun for violent crime in Orange County.

The county has been rocked by violence that Orange County supervisor Todd Spitzer called “17 days of bloodshed.” In separate attacks that attracted police sirens and helicopter hums, making sprawling Southern California seem like a war zone, two men went on shooting sprees before committing suicide.

First, Christopher Dorner began his “reign of terror” (as the LAPD called it) on Feb. 3 by shooting a newly-engaged couple in an Irvine parking structure enough times with a 9mm handgun that officials believe he carried a high-capacity magazine.

He later ambushed police officers in Corona and Riverside, killing one and injuring two others. Five days later, he picked off a Riverside police detective with his silenced sniper.

Then there was suspect Ali Syed, who on Tuesday killed a 20-year-old woman at his house in Ladera Ranch and fled north to Santa Ana, where he quickly killed two others with his shotgun. He later took his life—four deaths spread across 25 miles.

These attacks have left nine people dead and six wounded.

“Seventeen days of bloodshed back-to-back is intolerable and unacceptable,” Spitzer said after the rampage.

While these acts of violence are not rare for the county—Orange County had at least 61 homicides in 2012, according to the Coroner’s Office—their intensity has alarmed citizens.

“It’s time to come together as a community to address the violence,” Spitzer said in a statement. Because of this, Spitzer has organized a hearing on violence, guns, the mental health system and drug abuse scheduled for March 8 at the Board of Supervisors’ Santa Ana headquarters.

Understanding the reason behind the violence is essential to stopping it. Dorner’s reason was the betrayal of his shaken trust by a broken system.

In his manifesto, Dorner lists a cycle of violence and racism that he faced as an African-American that began in elementary school. He said he was the only black child in his classes and once a classmate called him a racial slur. Dorner said from that moment on, he decided to take a stand against racism.

As a rookie LAPD cop, Dorner witnessed two police recruits used that same slur, and complained to the department, according to Dorner’s testimony in Los Angeles court documents.

Later, in the event that he claims caused his termination from the department, Dorner said he witnessed police brutality by his police trainer, Officer Teresa Evans. Court records show that Dorner testified that Evans kicked a schizophrenic homeless man in San Pedro three times, including one that drew blood on the man’s cheek after she had tazed him.

But what about Syed; why did he crack? I wondered this as I visited two of his shooting sites the night of his rampage. It was cold and cloudy, the sun was just about to set, police had left the scene and just a few NBC and Eyewitness News vans idled nearby. I was at the construction site at Edinger and Newport avenues in Tustin, where 12 hours before Syed had shot a construction worker who lived in Fullerton.

All I could think of was: “Why?”

What makes you shoot an innocent person; why would that even happen? It just seems so wrong. We are part of a plan—God’s plan—and that plan must continue regardless of what we get dealt in life: Anger, unfairness, unemployment and regret.

As Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another.”

Unfortunately, it’s too late for Dorner and Syed. But it is not too late for us. Jesus is saying here that we need to love the future Dorners and Syeds, despite their faults.

It’s love as a preventive first strike.

Maybe if Chris and Ali had this love while they were living, they might have wavered; they might have considered what pulling the trigger really means for themselves and others.

The whole “Dorner thing” is not because an ex-officer cracked, it’s not because the police are corrupt; it’s because an entire system failed on a man. It’s our fault, as a community, that we failed to love someone. By failing to accept that these people need help, we have in turn failed ourselves.

Let’s not fail ourselves next time.

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