Tuesday night, or in all actuality, Wednesday morning, just after midnight, I was awakened by the sound of speeding cars, the flashing of blue and red lights, and a low-flying helicopter. With the sounds fading off into the distance, and not being in the habit of chasing ambulance/fire trucks/speeding policemen, I tugged the blankets off of my stingy blanket burdened husband telling him that something bad must have happened down the bayou (everything is down the bayou where we live). He muttered something about cold feet and went back to sleep. I spent the night listening to a circling helicopter and hoping that someone's child was not missing.
The next morning found me struggling to get out of bed at 7:30 in the morning and dragging my protesting rear end out of bed in order to bring the teens to band camp. No fun for any of us. Before we could leave our small town and drive to their high school, we were stopped by a giant sized road block of police men and their cars. Of course my fluttering mind and harebrained mentality immediately thought of the missing insurance ID and out of date brake tag. Crap. No way out of it, I'm sure they would see if I'd take an alternate route (yeah, our town is that small...not even a stop light). They stopped us, rolled down window, and to my charign, asked me if I knew the man in the picture. He shot a police officer, and had run off into the swamps. No, I didn't know him. I knew his parents. He attended our school five years ago. He's just a kid.
He was just a kid. He came from a broken home, if you could have called it a home to begin with. At school, he was classified as EBD (emotionally behaviorally disturbed), attended a self contained setting, didn't get along well socially with others, and had a behavior plan. Behavior plans target specific behaviors...such as stealing from others...if it's a target behavior...you have a plan put in place to try and fix the targeted behavior. Among other things, many students tend to use these as a get out jail free card. Poor kid just wasn't right in his head. Now added to his own personal challenges, rumor mill has it going on that his father...you know...the one that is suppose to make sure they grow up into a decent upstanding person...was having the step mom drop him and his son at houses undergoing construction in order to help him steal copper that could be stripped and sold. Nice role model there.
He was arrested later that day. The helicopter pinned down his position in a nearby swamp, and some twenty odd officers surrounded him, and fortunately, peacefully arrested him. The police officer that had been shot is now in stable condition, suffering from gunshots to the shoulder, leg, and buttocks.
When asked if the 18 year old had any regrets, he responded simply by saying, "Yeah, I shouldn't have shot him. That's it."
Sometimes I wonder, as a teacher, as a mom, as a citizen, if we are doing justice to the youth of today. I see so many of yesterday's behavior problems, the ones with behavior plans that gave warnings, allowances, this and thats becoming today's crime offenders. What can we do? Honestly? There is only so much that can be done in the classroom and in schools, and even then, without parental involvement and support AND carrying out their part of the plan, what good can it do?
My heart goes out to a kid who has committed a mansize crime and has absolutely NO idea what he is in for now.