Three seemingly unrelated events took place just days apart: the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas; the massacre in Nice, France (at least 84 were killed and over 200 wounded) and the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (As we all know by now, ISIS claimed responsibility for the tragedy in France.) The incidents are unrelated and half a world apart yet seem to have some eerie similarities.
07/17/2016 Baton Rouge, Louisiana: by all accounts, the killer Gavin Long (29) seems quite sympathetic. He served in the Marines and earned the rank of a sergeant. He served in Iraq and left the Marines in 2010 with an honorable discharge. His digital footprint indicates that he was passionate about fitness and nutrition and traveled to Africa in search of his roots. He had no criminal record. Long appears to have been frustrated over the two recent deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement. Following these deaths, he shared on social media that – in his opinion – peaceful protests against police brutality are ineffective and have to be backed up by the use of force.
07/14/2016 Nice, France: the killer, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel (31) is said to have been bitter over his divorce and recently lost his job. He was a Muslim, but not even his father considered him religious. According to statements from people who knew him, he was a womanizer, drank alcohol, used marijuana and enjoyed pork, all of which is against the strict Muslim standards of behavior. His affiliation with ISIS has not been established and seems unlikely. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had a criminal record consisting of minor criminal offenses.
07/07/2016 Dallas, Texas: Apparently devastated by the deaths of several black men at the hands of white police officers, Micah Xavier Johnson (25) aimed at white police officers in Dallas. He killed five and wounded six. Micah Xavier Johnson was an U.S. Army reservist where, according to media reports, he served as a carpentry and masonry specialist until 2015. Johnson was also deployed to Afghanistan where he served for about 9 months. Despite of being accused of sexual harassment by a fellow soldier while in the Army, Johnson’s service ended with an honorable discharge. In the civil life that followed, he worked for a residential health care company, provided care for his younger brother and exercised in a local gym side by side with local law enforcement. Micah Xavier Johnson had no criminal record. The main source of information about his allegiance to black causes seems to stem from his Facebook account.
In all three tragedies, innocent people were killed and wounded. Many lives were brutally taken and many disrupted. Many families are devastated. Great many people suffered, still suffer and many more are traumatized.
Authorities (US and French) were expected to quickly explain the inexplicable. The French call the massacre in Nice, an act of terrorism. To us, the killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge are murders committed by cold-blooded killers.
The loss of lives in all three cases is real and the tragedies excruciating. Contradicting popular opinion under such circumstances isn’t easy. But am I the only one who can see that all three attackers were lone wolves, unstable individuals who lost their footing in life rather than advocates for causes?
Why would anyone sane murder police officers? Why attack law enforcement officers who were not involved in the killing of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile or Freddie Grey?! Neither Micah Xavier Johnson nor Gavin Long advanced justice, the opposite: they perpetuated more injustice by murdering eight people just like these they wanted to avenge: innocent, healthy, family men…
Why would anyone kill 84 strangers (including children!) and maim over 200 others?! None of the victims caused Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel’s marriage breakup or his unemployment. None of them interfered with his life or practice – in this case, lack thereof – of religion. His actions can’t be explained as an attempted act of revenge, but a hatred of all people.
All people get frustrated and on occasion angry or disheartened. That’s normal. Normal people however know how to deal with their feelings and how to solve problems. We don’t think – leave alone feel compelled to – kill anyone. I don’t know about you, but it never crossed my mind to kill anyone, to kill everybody, or members of a specific group of people. We just don’t think this way. The three killers in question however did: they thought to kill; they planned the killings and carried out their plans.
In my personal need to make sense of events that don’t and none the three events I mentioned above does, I can see only three possibilities:
1/ Each of the killers suffered from some mental or emotional issues.
2/ Each wanted to commit a suicide by a cop.
3/ Each sought instant notoriety.
I wholeheartedly condemn all three acts of mass murder. BUT: normal people don’t commit murders. Are we dealing with terrorism and / or murderers OR the society’s failure to prevent, identify, treat and perhaps even isolate persons with mental / emotional problems?…
Obviously, these are only one person’s questions, I welcome your opinions.
Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor / I. Sturm
UPDATE: #4! On July 22nd 2016 a German-born (with a German and Iranian citizenship) 18 year old, Ali Sonboly, killed nine people and eventually committed suicide in Munich, Germany. German officials didn’t describe the mass killings as an “act of terrorism”.
In spite of terror-related literature found at the killer’s home, authorities concluded that the massacre was in revenge for bullying Sonboly suffered in school at the hands of “Turkish and Arab” teens (seven of the victims were teenagers).
German officials see the attack as a violent outburst of a depressed loner who was receiving psychiatric treatment, not a politically-motivated attack on Germany.
Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor / E. Elrich