Madness and mystery

Two violent incidents raise disturbing questions

Like everyone who’s learned of the shooting death of David Yang, the young man killed last week, seemingly at random, as he waited for a traffic signal to change, I’ve struggled to understand it. What leads someone to lie in wait in the dark with a deer rifle and then randomly shoot a complete stranger?

Eventually I realized that to understand I’d have to put myself in the killer’s mind, and that I can’t do. Such a mind is unimaginable.

There are all kinds of mysteries in this case, as News Editor Melissa Daugherty’s story about the killing (see related story link) reveals. But none is as profound as this one: Why?

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Another incomprehensible outbreak of violence much in the news lately is the alleged vehicular rundown in Chapmantown that left a 16-year-old boy comatose and near death in the hospital and brought neighborhood residents out to protest on three occasions.

The chain of events isn’t completely clear, but apparently a 34-year-old man interrupted three youths, ages 16, 18 and 19, in the act of stealing his bicycle. One or more of them threatened him with a knife. The youths left, and the man then went to a friend’s house for safety.

It could have ended there, but instead the man got in his truck, accompanied by his friend, and went looking for the youths. When the men found them, the 16-year-old allegedly tried to stab the driver through his window, then began chasing and trying to stab his friend, who’d gotten out of the truck. The driver allegedly then ran down the kid with his truck, severely injuring him.

The boy’s family and neighbors have been protesting the fact that so far police have not brought charges against the driver. I certainly don’t condone bike theft or assault with a knife, but it’s always better to call the police than take justice into your own hands.

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At last week’s City Council meeting, a couple of speakers during the public hearing on the city’s new Diversity Action Plan argued that instead of wasting time on feel-good programs the council should focus on creating jobs.

But can the City Council actually create jobs? Not really. What it can do is foster the conditions that attract businesses to town—roads, parks, cultural amenities—and work with other agencies—schools, the university—to create a healthy business climate. One element in such an effort, as several other speakers pointed out, is having a reputation for being an open, tolerant and welcoming community. Hence the Diversity Action Plan.

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I stand corrected. Bob Klang called to tell me that he’d attended a recent presentation on the Highway 99 upgrade and learned there will be no 14-foot-high sound walls in the section that traverses Lower Park, as I stated here a few weeks ago. The walls will begin at Vallombrosa and extend north to East First Avenue, he said. That makes sense, as there are no houses in the park. Thanks, Bob.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.