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Not Random Still Not Okay

by Melissa Brunner

It's taking a while to wrap my head around the Capital City seeing three separate homicide incidents in three days last week. In my 16 years in Topeka, I don't recall covering a string like that.

Authorities say the incidents were not random acts of violence. For that, we breathe a sigh of relief and continue on our way, content in the knowledge that, if we, ourselves, are law-abiding citizens, the chances someone will randomly attack us on the street remain relatively low.

While that certainly may be true in one sense, in another, it's precisely the wrong attitude to have if we want to keep our communities safe. From the basic safety standpoint, I submit that bullets don't always stop where they are supposed to - there's no physical barrier dividing the "good" side of the street from the "bad" side. A few years back, a young girl was killed when the bullet from someone else's argument came through the wall of her family's apartment. Just a few weeks ago, police say gunmen intended to fire shots into a particular house, but the woman killed was not their intended victim. Bystanders can and do get hurt, and you never know when you might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Apart from our own physical safety, shouldn't it bother us when someone feels it's okay to harm someone else as a resolution to their problems? What does it say about us as a community if we're willing to turn a blind eye because it's "just" a domestic situation or "just" gang members or "just" a drug deal gone wrong? Ignoring it and thinking it's not our problem does not make it go away. It is our problem because, at the end of the day, it does put us all at risk....and it allows the culture of violence to continue into the next generation.

I'm glad to know police do not believe a violent person is running loose, searching for his or her next random victim. But that doesn't make what transpired last week okay.

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