Predictable Carnage

I was going to write about the new UFO report compiled under Trump that is to be released soon but it may be even harder to fathom why someone would enter a convenience store where people are buying hero sandwiches and Cokes and then callously, without showing emotion, open fire on men, women, children, all total strangers, ending the lives of 10 people in a nightmarish scene in the blink of an eye.

The harrowing coverage of yesterday’s latest mass carnage at a Colorado grocery store was predictable but I’ll bet you didn’t know that this year, so far, there have been 107 mass shootings that have left 122 dead and 325 wounded throughout the country. Few of the other 106 mass shootings garnered widespread media coverage and I know why there is invariably intense reportage in the aftermath of scenes of mass murders like in Colorado but generally not in other shootings.

There is a veritable guide book for reporters coverage: One of the victims was a police officer and his life will be profiled with words of praise from colleagues and love from grieving wives and children. Reporters will interview law enforcement about possible suspects and get photos of the bloody shirt on the floor near the frozen food chest. Talk to any witnesses and tease out the smallest but most telling details, like the child who thought someone was lighting firecrackers or the newlyweds who stopped by to pick up supplies for beef stroganoff and compare the grisly scene with the benign and banal images of a local supermarket. Get bios of the victims, seeking the most dramatic, like the elderly man who planned to see his grandchild that day or the mother of three who was just picking up some Fritos for her youngest or the 28-year-old entrepreneur who was on the verge of great success.

Next is the background of the alleged killer, where he lived, what were his hobbies, his interests, talk to friends, relatives, paint a picture of the now familiar mass shooter with the key question about why? Any hint of racism or bias on the part of the accused will lend to an even more dramatic story, one that can continue for weeks of related coverage.

And there will be statements of support from politicians about the shocking tragedy of such losses and thousands will attend funerals to join the mourners, with eulogies about the wonderful lives that were snuffed out for no good reason.

Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group, defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people, excluding the perpetrator or perpetrators, are shot in one location at roughly the same time. The Colorado shooting fits the description and so do three other incidents that all transpired two days earlier, on March 20. The difference: The Colorado tragedy is headline news across the country that continues for days and generates political discussions on the highest levels. The other shootings just two days earlier get minimal coverage and quickly become old news that doesn’t sell newspapers.

Two days before the Colorado shootings, five people were shot at a nightclub in Houston, Texas; the same day, one person died and seven were wounded in a shooting at a nightclub in Dallas, Texas. And that same day, In Philadelphia, five people were shot, one fatally at a party in Philadelphia, Pa. There was no widespread media coverage for many reasons, including, the attacks happened in nightclubs and parties, hardly the stuff of drama and irony. Reporters would have been reluctant, even fearful to visit high crime areas to locate and interview survivors or witnesses and without a national uproar, there would be no follow-up stories about funerals and political hand wringing. Gang-related violence gets even less attention with the unspoken attitude that somehow the victims deserved their fates. And unsolved murders in urban areas are also seen too difficult to cover and as less than newsworthy.

And there is another more pernicious reason that the shootings don’t garner the kind of widespread media attention generated at a suburban supermarket. In a word, the reason is racism as victims who are people of color do not generate the amount and kind of sympathy when white people are killed. There is the unspoken feeling among reporters and people in general that victims in poor areas may not be so innocent, that somehow they may have contributed to their own deaths, like the people at a dance club in Houston or a private party in Philadelphia. Somehow, violence in poor areas is considered a part of the normal pastiche of life and that black on black violence is greater than in white areas, stereotypes that leads to a lack of media attention and a lack of general empathy and bigotry.

The fact is that the rate of white on white and black on black homicides are very similar as are rates of black on white and white on black killings. The disproportionate area is that police kill black people at a much higher rate than whites are killed by police, according to various federal studies.

For the record, gleaned from various news reports, here is a list of the mass shootings so far this year:

March 22: Boulder, Colo.,10 dead, one injured.

March 18: Gresham, Ore., four people were hospitalized after a shooting at a motel.

March 18: New Orleans, La., four people were shot in the 7th Ward.

March 17: Stockton, Calif., five people were wounded after a drive-by shooting at a vigil.

March 16: Phoenix, Ariz., four people died after a shooting at a home.

March 16: Atlanta, Ga., a series of mass shootings at massage parlors leaves eight people killed one wounded.

March 15: Indianapolis, Ind., one person died and four were injured after an overnight shooting in the Northside.

March 14: Tampa, Fla., four people were shot outside a banquet hall.

March 14: Chicago, Ill, four people were injured during a robbery in the South Side.

March 14: Chicago, Ill., two people were killed and 13 injured at an early morning party in the South Side.

March 13: New York City, five people were shot at a hookah parlor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

March 13: Richmond, Va., two people were killed and four injured at a parking lot.

March 13: Indianapolis, Ind., police found a woman who had been shot and learned there may be other victims at a different home. Police arrived at the home and found four dead, including a child.

March 13: Orlando, Fla., one person was killed and three injured at an early morning party.

March 12: Greensboro, N.C., four people, including a minor, were injured in a shooting.

March 11: Chamita, N.M., following an argument, a man shot at a car of people, killing one and wounding three.

March 11: Columbia, S.C., one person was killed and four injured outside a motorcycle business.

March 11: Philadelphia, Pa., four people were shot in Overbrook, two fatally including a 16-year-old.

March 10: Philadelphia, Pa., four people were shot in Kensington.

March 10: Houston, Texas, three people were killed and one was injured in Southwest Houston.

March 8: Clearwater, Fla., one man died and three people were injured in a shooting.

March 7: Edwards, Miss., three adults and a 2-year-old child were injured at a child’s birthday party, in a local apartment building.

March 6: Yuba City, Calif., two were killed and three injured after a drive-by shooting at a backyard gathering.

March 6: Fayetteville, N.C., one man was killed and four people were injured in an early-morning shooting.

March 5: Compton, Calif., a shooting at a restaurant killed a man from Pennsylvania and injured four others.

March 4: Washington, D.C., several people were injured in a shooting at a convenience store in the Southwest section of the district.

March 3: Erie, Pa., one person died and three were injured after a shooting at a tavern.

Feb. 28: Houston, Texas, four people were injured at a parking lot in Northwest Houston.

Feb. 28: Cincinnati, Ohio, a man shot and killed his wife and two others, wounding a fourth.

Feb. 28: East Chicago, Ind., four people were shot at a gas station and one of the wounded was a 7-year-old girl.

Feb. 28: McCormick, S.C., four people were shot at an apartment complex.

Feb. 28: Shreveport, La., five people were wounded in a drive-by shooting.

Feb. 28: Dover, Del., four people were wounded in an IHOP parking lot during the early morning.

Feb. 27: Columbus, Miss., four people were injured after a shooting in South Columbus.

Feb. 27: Pattison, Miss., a conflict between two men led to a shooting at a birthday party, killing two and injuring three.

Feb. 26: San Diego, Calif., four were shot, one fatally, after a drive-by shooting outside a market.

Feb. 26, Houston, Texas, six men were injured at a local car wash, with one man found by police and five others identified at a local hospital.

Feb. 26: Baton Rouge, La., four people were shot and injured on Paige Street.

Feb. 21: Teachey N.C., four people were wounded after a shooting at a mobile home park.

Feb. 21: Kennett, Mo., one man died and four people were injured after an overnight shooting at a club.

Feb. 20: East Norriton, Pa., one man died and three people were injured after a shooting at a bowling alley.

Feb. 20: Springfield, Ill., one man died and four people were injured after an overnight shooting in Springfield.

Feb. 20: Metairie, La., a man shot and killed two people at a gun store.

Feb. 19: Grand Junction, Colo., four people were shot, one fatally, at a party.

Feb. 18: Baton Rouge, La., one man was killed and three others injured inside a barbershop.

Feb. 17: Philadelphia, Pa., a shooter injured eight people, including a 17-year-old, near the Olney Transportation Center.

Feb. 16: St. Petersburg, Fla., a man suspected in a homicide shot several family members at a house where his grandmother and great grandmother lived, killing them and his uncle.

Feb. 13: San Francisco, Calif., a shooting in Bayview injured six people.

Feb. 13: Indianapolis, Ind., one adult and three juveniles were discovered wounded by gunfire in a vehicle stopped at an intersection.

Feb. 13: Cary, N.C., one person died and three others were wounded in an early morning shooting.

Feb. 13: Oakland, Calif., six wounded men were found in the Old Oakland Historic District.

Feb. 11: Columbus, Ga., five people were shot, one fatally in an evening shooting near the Signature Event Center.

Feb. 10: Atlanta, Ga., four people were injured during a shootout between two vehicles.

Feb. 9: Houston, Texas, four men were shot and injured in a drive-by shooting at Acres Homes.

Feb. 9: Buffalo, Minn., a nurse was killed and four other people were shot and seriously wounded inside of a health care clinic.

Feb. 8: Mobile, Ala., three adults and a juvenile were shot and injured in an evening shooting.

Feb. 6: Thibodaux, La., three teens and one adult were shot at a house party.

Feb. 6: Tacoma, Wash., a shooting at an illegal club killed one and injured three.

Feb. 6: Murfreesboro, Tenn., one man was killed in a shooting at a party while two others were hospitalized. Another two were grazed by bullets but refused treatment.

Feb. 6: Bloomingdale, Ill., a shooting at a hotel killed one man and wounded five others.

Feb. 5: Bolivar, Miss., a shooting at a club left three people dead and one injured.

Feb. 5: Martinsville, Va., two were killed in a shooting at a restaurant, while two others were injured.

Feb. 5, Mohnton, Pa., Four men were shot and one died at a hookah lounge.

Feb. 4: High Point, N.C., during a hostage situation, a man killed a woman and shot three officers.

Feb. 3: Colorado Springs, Colo., Four people were shot and three were killed at an apartment complex near Fort Carson.

Feb. 3: Oak Creek, Colo., police discovered a wounded man, who told them he had been shot by another man. The shooter was discovered shortly afterwards in a home where he killed one and injured two before being killed by a resident of the home.

Feb. 3: Memphis, Tenn., one person died in North Memphis and three others were injured in a shooting.

Feb. 2: Muskogee, Okla., five children and one adult were shot and killed, and one other adult suffered life-threatening injuries, after a home shooting in Oklahoma.

Feb. 2: Sunrise, Fla., two FBI agents were shot and killed and three others wounded attempting to serve a warrant. The suspect barricaded himself in his home and opened fire before shooting and killing himself.

Feb. 1: Rochester, N.Y., a man was killed and a woman and two men injured in the early morning.

Jan. 30: Albany, N.Y., a woman was shot and killed, and four other people were injured after a shooting.

Jan. 29: McKees Rocks, Pa., two people were killed and three others injured after a shooting outside a club.

Jan. 28, Flint, Mich., a woman was killed and four others, including a baby boy were injured in a drive-by shooting.

Jan. 27: Santa Ana, Calif., four men were wounded in the early morning at an illegal gambling den.

Jan. 25: Washington, D.C., a shooting at a market killed a Virginia Union University student and wounded four others in the Southeast section of the nation’s capital.

Jan. 24: Las Vegas, Nev., five people were hospitalized in a shooting, two in critical condition.

Jan. 24: Indianapolis, Ind., Six people including an unborn baby were killed and a teen was injured in a shooting at a house at the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Jan. 22: Covington, Ky., five people were injured in a shooting at a bar.

Jan. 21: Oakland, Calif., one person died during a shoot-out in East Oakland, while three others were injured. The man who died was hit by a stray bullet.

Jan. 20: Crowley, La., four people were injured in a shooting just outside Crowley city limits.

Jan. 18: Tobyhanna, Pa., four people were wounded in a string of connected shootings at three different locations.

Jan. 17: Phoenix, Ariz., five men were injured during a shooting near a strip mall.

Jan. 17: Phoenix, Ariz., a shooting at a nightclub killed one and injured six.

Jan. 16: Kankakee, Ill., four men and a woman were injured in an early morning shooting after an attendee at a house party opened fire.

Jan. 16: San Francisco, Calif., five people were wounded after a shooting in the Tenderloin district.

Jan. 15: Philadelphia, Pa., four teenagers were injured in a shooting in the Logan neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

Jan. 11: Miami, Fla., four teenagers were shot outside an apartment complex in Brownsville in the third mass shooting in Metropolitan Miami in eight days.

Jan. 9: Houston, Texas, a shooting at a nightclub left a teenager dead and three others injured.

Jan. 9: Chicago and Evanston, Ill., a shooting that started in Chicago ended in Evanston left five people dead and two injured.

Jan. 7: Washington, D.C., three men and two boys were wounded in an evening shooting in Columbia Heights.

Jan. 6: Manassas, Va., a man opened fire on his family and killed one man and injured two women and a teenage boy before fleeing.

Jan. 6: Livingston, Texas, three men attempted to break into a home, and engaged in a gun fight with an occupant. The occupant was killed and two adults and a 3-year-old girl were injured.

Jan. 5: Tampa, Fla., a shootout injured five people near a convenience store in the Palm River-Clair Mel area.

Jan. 4: Lauderhill, Fla., seven people were injured in a shooting.

Jan. 4: New Orleans, La., three men and a 15-year-old boy were involved in a shoot-out in the 7th ward, and subsequently wounded by gunfire.

Jan. 3: Miami, Fla., four people were wounded outside a nightclub in the evening.

Jan. 3: Miami, Fla., six adults and two teenagers were wounded at a basketball court in Little River Park in Northwest Miami-Dade, when two people walked up and opened fire.

Jan. 3: Gresham, Ore., four people were wounded at a private party.

Jan. 3: Houston, Texas, a fight broke out outside a Midtown Houston nightclub and a man opened fire. Three officers working a second job as security were wounded, along with the shooter and a woman was killed.

Jan. 3: Santa Barbara, Calif., two people were killed and two injured after another approached the group on foot and opened fire, in the city’s lower Eastside.

Jan. 3: Shreveport, La., two groups of men opened fire at one another in the early morning. Two were killed and three wounded.

Jan. 1: Galesburg, Ill., four people were wounded in an early morning shooting while at home.



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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer