It was New Year's Eve just two years ago. The setting was one of the rougher neighborhoods of Kansas City. On a street corner stood a group of young thugs celebrating the new year as thugs often do - with guns drawn, shooting into the cold night air in some stupid ritual of sorts that is common place in some cultures. The same thing happens in Sikeston, I'm told.
And in that group of directionless thugs stood Leontae Hill, 20. Drunk and doing drugs, Hill held a fully-automatic machine gun. (For starters, don't you wonder how a 20 year-old thug can come into possession of a machine gun?) But the story goes on.
For some reason that clearly defies the imagination, Hill leveled his gun at a passing police car and unloaded 30 rounds into the cruiser. Of the four officers inside the vehicle, two were struck by the stream of bullets. Officer Steve Walker was struck near his ear. He lived but endured hearing loss and months of rehabilitation for brain damage. Officer Jeff Colvin was struck in the neck but he too survived.
A jury this week recommended the harshest punishment possible for Hill and the judge agreed. So for his New Year's Eve stupidity, Hill will soon begin serving four life sentences plus 60 years in prison. Justice, at last, will be served.
You have to wonder what goes through the minds of some idiot like Leontae Hill. Social scientists would surely blame his deeds as those of a lost youth lacking a proper foundation and without sufficient social skills or societal understanding. I believe that Hill is a thug who puts no premium on life and who deserves the life in prison he is about to receive. But what truly frightens me is that there are thousands of Leontae Hills out there. Those lost souls, those mindless thugs who feel the laws of a civilized society don't apply to them. It's not the drugs or the booze or even the easy access to guns. It's the incomprehensible disregard for life that characterizes these thugs.
I often complain that justice is too soft and too slow. In this case, justice matched the crime. And that is a happy ending.