When thugs declare open season on human beings
The Kansas City Star
I am Harry Stone. You are Harry Stone.
Except for one major difference.
You and I are alive today.
Harry Stone is dead.
The 60-year-old Raytown resident was jogging early Sunday morning when he was shot and killed near 67th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard in Raytown.
Police say all evidence so far shows it was a senseless and random act of violence.
Translated: It could have happened to anyone.
It could have happened to me when I was out for one of my morning, afternoon or nighttime training runs on Kansas City area roads.
It could have happened to you while out walking your dog in your neighborhood.
Want something equally chilling? By its very definition, this kind of random violence will happen again.
So now we wait for authorities to catch Stone’s killers, which I expect will happen. People involved in appalling incidents like this often brag about them. Stone reportedly was shot by a passenger in a car, so there were at least two people in the vehicle.
Stone’s murder has prompted outrage and expected reactions, especially this one: What kind of animals would do something like this to a human being?
Remember Rapheal Willis and Fabian D. Brown Jr.?
They were convicted in the senseless shooting of Robert Osborn in late 2005 on 47th Street east of Blue Ridge Boulevard in Kansas City — four blocks from my house. Osborn had been bicycling home from his job as a stocker at a grocery.
Testimony indicated that Willis and Brown had been driving around that Sunday morning and were bored. They saw Osborn on his bike. Two shots were fired at Osborn; both missed. The men then drove down the street, ambushed Osborn and killed him with a shotgun.
This week’s shooting of Stone — another person minding his own business — also ended the life of someone with loving relatives, someone who was part of the often tight-knit Raytown community. Residents there and elsewhere are repeating understandable reactions to Stone’s killing.
Don’t ever take life for granted. Prosecute these murderers to the full extent of the law.
Some other points, though, are being made in a more pessimistic vein.
Who wants to live in neighborhoods where this kind of thing can happen? Should we get out before the bad elements take over the streets?
Yes, you probably know where I’m going with this.
Both Rapheal Willis and Fabian D. Brown Jr. were young black men.
It would not be surprising if the killers of Harry Stone fit that description, too.
That stereotypical reaction is based on some facts, the primary one being that way too many shootings by young black males occur on the streets of central and east Kansas City, bleeding over into area suburbs.
That reality requires far more attention from the region’s leaders than it has received. Beefing up efforts to get repeat offenders — the ones who commit the most violent offenses — off the streets could be a step toward reducing random crimes.
Many area residents also are feeling, with self-satisfaction or even a little guilt, some other emotion today.
Relief that they live in Overland Park or Lee’s Summit or Prairie Village or Liberty or some other “safe” suburb where they are far less likely to be involved in these kinds of crimes.
Catching the killers of Harry Stone is a high priority for the police. But it still might bring only limited relief to his family and this community.
Consider that both suspects in Osborn’s killing pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and sentenced to only 15 years in prison. That deservedly outraged Osborn’s relatives.
A few years ago Ron Osborn said of the incident involving his brother: “You can’t understand why two individuals would declare open season on a human. What normal person can understand that?”
The family of Harry Stone is asking the same question today.
Reach Yael T. Abouhalkah at 816-234-4887 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at voices.kansascity.com. He appears on “Ruckus” at 7 tonight on KCPT, Channel 19. Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah