Yesterday, a man shot multiple people at Ft. Hood in Texas. I hate to admit this, but I said, "What a shame" and turned the news channel to a show on Home and Garden Network. It didn't hit home. But, today, just before lunch, a forty year old man named Mark Rodriquez entered an office building at the Gateway Center just fifteen minutes from my home near Orlando and opened fire on the workers at an architectural firm, Reynolds, Smith and Hill. Six people were badly injured. One has died thus far. All of a sudden, the senseless violence became very personal. When I saw the news, I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. I locked my doors. I suddenly felt unsafe.
I know the area. I know people who work there and live nearby. I drive past that building frequently. My lawyers' office is on the top floor. I wondered if he was a victim. The prep school my daughter attended is within walking distance. Police locked it down. A hotel that many friends have stayed in is across the street. The building where the crime occurred is not in a slum or area generally considered unsafe. I was reminded, as I sat glued to the TV for the next hour and a half, that no place is guaranteed safe anymore.
Here's another recent example. On Halloween night within walking distance of my home a middle aged man finished dinner with a female companion at an upscale restaurant along Park Avenue. As he made his way to his car, two men in Halloween costumes accosted him and attempted a robbery. Apparently the victim resisted and he was repeatedly stabbed with knives. He is still in the hospital and the perps remain at large.
Today's apparent nutcase was identified by an office worker and apprehended after several hours by OPD at his mother's apartment east of the city. He told police he did it because, "They left me to rot." He was referring, as far as I can tell, to having been fired or laid off two years ago by the company. Times are hard. I feel for the folks who have it tough. But that hardly justifies murder. I feel no sympathy for Mark Rodriquez. Whatever his troubles were he made the choice to do evil. His statement shows a lack of personal responsibility. Maybe he's just plain nuts. Nobody knows yet. But, he took at least one life in anger. I hope he gets justice and that the justice is harsh.
As for me, I was lucky not to have an errand at 1000 Legion Place this morning. I was lucky not to be out to dinner on Park Avenue on Halloween. I am grateful that my kids and Danny were safely somewhere else today when Mark Rodriquez made the choice to take out his personal agenda out on innocent people with a smoking gun. We were all lucky. This time. Six other people weren't lucky. Tomorrow, it may be my turn. My family's turn. Or your family's turn. In 2009, we live in violent times.
Here's a weird postscript: About the time the shootings occurred and the perp was racing away in his SUV, I was out walking my Rottweiler/Catahoula dog, Abby. She is the 'sensitive' one in the Mutley Crew. It was a beautiful sunny peaceful day. All of a sudden, she jumped up in the air, looked around, tucked tail and literally dragged me home. She was so upset, I didn't try to stop her. Probably totally coincidental, but from now on I am going to pay attention to her reactions to things much more closely.
That's all for now friends. Orlando's most recent killer is behind bars. The soldier run amok in Texas is behind bars. But, who knows what other snipers and killers, and robbers are lurking in dark corners? In conclusion, as they said on Hill Street Blues, "Be careful out there." Watch your backs. Be alert. Always. Good night, and good luck.