Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under't.
Big Bill Shakespeare: Macbeth, Act I, Scene V
It would seem a few of our children have come to believe life should imitate some of the more rambunctious video games out there. Unluckily for us, a number of their parents have provided them with the means and psyches to make that breath taking leap from dark fantasy to bloody reality.
It has been a wretched week indeed.
Monday, Jose Reyes, a Sparks, Nevada Middle School student brought a 9.mm Ruger to school with him. Before it was over two classmates were wounded, a math teacher, Michael Landsberry, was dead and so was he. Police say he got the gun from his parent's home. They are still trying to determine which button was pushed to set him off in such a deadly fashion.
Little did we know that was just the beginning.
On Tuesday, Melissa Ann Ringhardt, 19, was baby sitting 5 year old John Read and a 6 month old infant. She dragged out a hand gun because, reportedly, she was scared of being in the house alone. As we all know by now, she wasn't alone. The two children were there with her. She left the gun, she'd apparently gotten out of a gun safe in the home, on the coffee table when she went to take a nap. Before she woke up John Read found it and accidentally killed himself with it. Ringhardt has been charged with "abandoning and or endangering a child." Bail was set at $250,000.
Tuesday evening up in Danvers, MA, two people were reported missing. One was Philip Chism, 14 year old scoring leader on the Danvers High School JV soccer team. The other was math teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Chism, originally from Tennessee, was a first year student at Danvers. Ms. Ritzer, 24, was a second year math teacher.
According to various reports, what happened that day was right out of the most twisted parts of Clive Barker's brain. Ritzer had Chism stay after school to study for a test which was coming up on the next day. She had apparently caught him aimlessly doodling rather than taking notes earlier in her class. An hour or so later, she went to use the girls restroom on the 2nd floor because the faculty restroom was locked. Security cameras showed young Chism donning a pair of white gloves and going in after her. Sources say he struck Ms. Ritzer at least twice then slashed her throat with a box cutter. He stuffed her body into a large portable recycling bucket, trundled it out to the woods near the school, dumped her body, and covered it with leaves. Afterward he changed out of his bloody clothes, using spare garments he had in his backpack.
After he was done, Philip Chism walked a couple of miles to a movie theater, where he watched the Woody Allen film, "Blue Jasmine." After the end credits rolled, he smashed both his and Ritzer's cell phones in the parking lot. Finally, he strolled over to a local Wendy's to grab a bite to eat. He used the teacher's credit card to pay for the meal.
Police later found him wandering down a road and a little past midnight discovered Colleen Ritzer's body in the woods.
Predictably, everyone at the school was shocked. No one could believe either Ritzer, a magna cum laude graduate of Assumption College and unabashedly enthusiastic teacher was dead, or that Chism, the somewhat shy new comer, had done it. Chism has been charged as an adult. His next court appearance will be in late November.
On Wednesday, an unnamed 11 year old boy was arrested in Vancouver, WA and charged with attempted murder. Police popped him as he carried what was described as, several knives, a gun, and 400 rounds of ammunition into his school. There is no official word as to why he attempted such an act, but actually we all know exactly what it was that motivated him. He did it because he was mad at someone, or something and thanks to a parent, or guardian, he could.
The Oklahoman reported today that police arrested 16 year old Brajuan Napolean yesterday. He is alleged to have gotten into an "altercation" with a 17 year old early Sunday morning in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, OK. Police say Napolean did what so many teens are doing now days when involved in a confrontation. He pulled out a gun then shot and killed the kid he was arguing with. He was charged with first degree murder.
And last, but not least, in Santa Rosa, CA, the latest reports are that 13 year old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot seven times on Tuesday by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff. Cruz was carrying a plastic replica of an assault style weapon which two patrolling deputies mistook for the real thing. According to several media sources Cruz was walking away from the deputies when they called out twice for him to drop the "weapon." He began to turn toward them without doing so and one of them immediately opened fire.
The founder of something called the Police Accountability Clinic and Sonoma Helpline, Elbert Howard was outraged. He was quoted as saying, "He's a child and he had a toy. I see that as an overreaction to shoot him down."
Well, Brother Howard, unfortunately the problem is they aren't always toys. Just ask them in Sparks, Vancouver, and at old Columbine High.
As horrifically tragic as it is, it appears Andy Lopez Cruz ended up paying for the sins of a bunch teens and tweens he never met and wasn't the least bit like, but who have been all too real, far too many times.
To paraphrase Alice Cooper, welcome to our nightmare.
mors vincit omnia