The other day I had a physical therapist in my house teaching me to do exciting things like clench my butt cheeks and bend my knee. We somehow started talking about some of the ridiculous gun violence in Mobile lately and she told me there had even been guns fired at the fairgrounds last week.
I hadn’t heard that, so I was a little skeptical, but she was convinced and said her children had been there and heard it. Fortunately, according to our local law enforcement officials, that was just a rumor and no one was shot at while attempting to board the Zipper or down a corn dog.
But it didn’t seem that far-fetched, honestly. Given the state of things lately, would any of us be that surprised if a shooting incident took place at a fair or other outdoor gathering? I’m glad it didn’t, but with the trajectory we’re on lately, anything seems possible.
Maybe it’s a good thing Mobilians are still shocked by certain crimes — that we haven’t become so inured to gun violence in public places that it barely warrants a bored yawn. We still have a belief people should be able to walk around in public without getting shot. But how long will we maintain that innocence if things keep sliding the wrong way?
All of this hit a new level a few weeks ago when there was a shooting at Ladd-Peebles Rock ’n’ Roll Complex and Sports Mecca, or whatever we’re calling it these days. Maybe it’s not really a new level since there was a shooting at a high school football game at Ladd a few years ago. But safety features had been put in place and spectators weren’t supposed to be able to leave games and come back in. But that’s exactly what happened, and five people were shot while watching the Vigor-Williamson game Oct. 15.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and the next outrageous shooting took place at AMF Skyline Lanes. Christin Edwards, 22, of Chickasaw, was arrested for shooting four people inside the bowling alley on Nov. 2.
This one really hit home for me as a kid who grew up in the family-owned bowling alley. It’s hard to think of a bowling alley as a place where gunshots would be fired — outside of “The Big Lebowski” I suppose.
But police say Edwards had a beef with some people there and shot them, which was made even worse once it was revealed she was out on bond for a 2019 murder charge. Edwards was free on a $180,000 bond for the July 2019 murder of 17-year-old TyDarius Jones at Rickarby Park.
All you can wonder is “why?” Why has this person been out on bond for nearly two and a half years for an alleged murder? I’m sure we’ll hear all about COVID and lack of money, but it’s outrageous to think someone can be charged with murder and then wander around for years after that, out on bond, free to commit even more potentially deadly crimes.
Yes, we all have a right to bond, but there’s also the right to a speedy trial. Is there a right to stay on the streets for years after being indicted? While Mike Hubbard might say “Yes!!” the rest of us probably would much rather the wheels of justice spin a little faster.
Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon for people out on bond to be charged with new crimes. And often, it seems like their old bonds aren’t even revoked. Fortunately, she had her bond revoked and it seems to me, at this point, she ought to be in the slammer until they at least get around to having her murder trial, whenever that may be.
There was also a shooting along Dauphin Street near I-65 a week or two ago — another outlandish situation that brought a lot of attention.
A few years ago, my brother and son decided to go to Bel Air Mall just before Christmas. It was mid-day and they ended up standing right where police attempted to detain a man, a gun slid across the floor and subsequently was discharged. It was a terrifying situation for my brother and son, but one that seemed extremely unlikely to happen again. I don’t know if I feel the same way now.
It’s not necessarily a cop-out to say this kind of crime increase is happening across the country, not just in Mobile. But noting that it’s happening everywhere also isn’t a solution. It’s a shoulder shrug in terms of what we’re going to do to make our community different, better.
In retrospect, both the Ladd-Peebles and bowling alley shootings appear very preventable. If security had stayed on the scene with metal detectors in place, it’s highly doubtful there would have been a football game shooting. Officials need to stay vigilant and not try to pass the buck to other agencies when there are failures. Between Ladd, MPD and the school system, there was nothing but finger-pointing after the shooting.
As for Edwards, she obviously should have been tried long before she had a chance to shoot four people in a bowling alley. Two years is far too long for an accused murderer to be let loose on society with only the $9,000 in bond money she probably didn’t even put up in the first place there to keep her on the straight and narrow. It seems to me if you were someone who did murder another, and you were out on bond, you might be a little more on edge and more likely to say “screw it, I’m going to jail anyway.” Maybe my foray into criminal psychology is way off, but I doubt it.
The bottom line is that while crime is on the upswing nationally, we’re not helping anything by not doing the best job possible or letting our guard down. Let’s get the murderers to trial quickly and not half-ass crowd security. Who knows, we might have fewer and fewer outrageous shootings.
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