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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Thrill seeking teens must be punished

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"Murder is murder and these teens should pay the ultimate price."

If you look at the numbers, violent crime is down in St. Louis. If you look at this past weekend's carjacking spree, you realize it's still a dangerous community. City officials are quick to point to the declining crime statistics. But they also acknowledge that the weekend spree will harm the reputation of the city.

On Monday, police arrested two teenagers and are looking for two more. The crime spree began Friday afternoon and ended early Sunday morning. One man was killed and several others seriously injured. The teens, according to police, committed the crimes "for the thrill of it." That alone is the most frightening aspect of the crime spree.

Louis Bishop was shot in the head and killed when the teens pulled beside him as he walked and randomly shot him. Early Sunday morning, a Colorado family visiting the city, was forced off the road by the teens who then shot the husband in the face before fleeing. Within 30 minutes the teens struck again when they robbed a woman at gunpoint and took her vehicle. Saturday night the teens attempted a carjacking but were unsuccessful. In the attempted crime, several shots were fired. Just an hour later, the teens carjacked a vehicle from two other teens and shot them both before throwing them from the car. One of the injured teens is paralyzed.

Police responded quickly and formed three separate task forces to capture the suspects. On Sunday morning, police spotted one of the cars that had been stolen earlier in the weekend and captured a suspect. That led to the other three suspects though two remain at large.

Most of these crimes did not occur in the dark and dangerous streets of north St. Louis. They occurred on Interstate 70 in a well-traveled and busy part of St. Louis. And that alone got the attention of police who warned citizens that crime can indeed occur anywhere at anytime.

So you might ask what would drive teens to kill and injure just "for the thrill of it." I don't have an answer. I'll bet good money that the background of the suspects is fairly typical - broken home, limited prospects, jobless, etc. But those are lame excuses that are irrelevant. A crime is a crime and it stems from a cultural issue that some segments of the population are prone to violence for whatever reason. It goes beyond the issue of personal responsibility because these teens lack that concept. Their peers lack that concept as well.

The only way you react to these crimes is to demand the most severe punishment under the law or change the law if the punishment is not severe enough. Society does itself a disservice when they point to the background of the criminals as some type of excuse for their actions. Murder is murder and these teens should pay the ultimate price. That is the sole way to send a signal to the remainder of society and the thousands of other teens who - without direction - stand in line to take their place.

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