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Guns Debate Heightens As Senseless Shootings Increase

The recent increase in senseless shootings has once again heightened the debate over guns and gun control in society. These incidents, ranging from shooting sprees to incidents of racial violence, have left many questioning what can be done to prevent them.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

Recently, an Illinois man switched on his leaf blower and was shot to death by his next-door neighbor.

Later, a Texas gunman shot five people to death “execution style” after his neighbors asked him to stop firing his rifle in his yard late at night. The shooter, Francisco Oropeza, 38, was still at large at press time. He shot all five of his victims late at night in late April in the town of Cleveland, located about 45 miles north of Houston.

And just last Saturday (May 6), a mass shooting at a shopping mall near Dallas left nine people dead, including the suspect, as well as seven injured.

These shooting sprees in Illinois and Texas come on the heels of another recent shooting in suburban Antioch, Ill. Specifically, Ettore Lacchei, age 79, was ordered held without bond after he shot and killed William Martys, age 59, in early April,. Both men are White.

Lacchei, the gunman, who was charged with first-degree murder, had a habit of waving a gun in the neighborhood, which is located about 65 miles northwest of Chicago, according to news reports. Deputies raced to the scene and used life-saving measures. An April 13 autopsy from the Lake County Coroner’s Office revealed that Martys died from a gunshot wound to the head.

One seemingly non-threatening gun violence encounter that sparked a protest occurred in Kansas where a multi-racial group recently gathered outside of the downtown Kansas City courthouse after Andrew Lester, 84, (who is White) shot Ralph Yarl, 16, (who is Black) for ringing the wrong doorbell, while he was trying to pick up his siblings.

Lester answered the door with a revolver in his hand, according to news reports.

He shot Yarl first in the head and then in the arm. According to the police report, Yarl said he heard a voice say, “Don’t come around here.” Yarl got up, ran away and is lucky to be alive. Lester posted bail, which was set at $200,000, the sheriff’s office said.

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According to CNN, Lester was released on bond and attempted to speak with the judge throughout the proceeding but was not argumentative.

Lester is scheduled to appear in court on June 1. Meanwhile Yarl, the Black teen, suffers from headaches and still faces a long road to recovery, according to his attorneys.

His attorney, Lee Merritt, recently told CNN, “Had the bullet hit his head a fraction of an inch in any other direction he would probably be dead right now.”

At the recent multi-racial protest held for Yarl outside of the downtown Kansas City courthouse, Linda Deah, age 33, stood with her younger sister Denise. Both women are Liberian immigrants like Cleo Nagbe, (Yarl’s mother). They attend Revival of Hope Ministries located in the city’s immigrant-heavy northeast. The church is currently raising funds to buy tee shirts that say, “Ringing a doorbell is not a crime. Justice for Ralph,” according to news reports.

“It’s just too much,” said Linda Deah, who is a medical aide at an assisted-living facility in a mostly white, middle-class suburb and works a second job at a tax-prep center, more than 50 miles away, in St. Joseph. “At church we’re being killed. In supermarkets we’re being killed,” she said.

“We’re being hunted down like animals,” said her sister Denise, who works at a call center and as a cosmetologist.

Before Yarl was shot, a similar incident occurred on April 19, just before 10 p.m., in the small town of Hebron, N. Y, some 60 miles northeast of Albany. Kevin Monahan, age 65, came outside with a gun and fired, at four young adults who turned their car into the wrong driveway while looking for a friend’s house. He shot and killed Kaylin Gillis, age 20, the young woman who mistakenly pulled up in her car to his driveway. The gunman and the victims were White.

Meanwhile, in California, Fred Veenendaal, vice principal at Sunnyside High School, recently harassed several young Black girls while they walked through his gated community. He dialed the police and said the girls were “ghetto” and “Section 8 people.”

However, the girls said in a video that records the encounter, “We didn’t even do nothing, so we recording you right now. You know that’s harassment, right?”

Veenendaal, who has been with the Fresno Unified School District for just under 15 years, was placed on leave as the district investigates a viral video of his recent encounter with the Black teens, according to news reports.

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Photo by RDNE Stock project: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-man-pointing-a-gun-6069235/

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