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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Senseless murder needs tough penalty

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

An Indianapolis man is dead over the senseless attempted theft of his car's hubcaps. And three St. Louis thugs are in jail charged with murder. The act itself was so stupid and so brazen that it makes you wonder about the violence that plagues our cities.

In the early morning hours Sunday, Gerardo Perez was in St. Louis to visit relatives. He had worked long into the night at his Indianapolis restaurant before heading to St. Louis. He arrived in the early morning hours and was headed to his destination when a vehicle stopped in front of his and the four occupants emerged and headed toward Perez. In a panic, I imagine, he put his vehicle in reverse and tried to flee. He was struck in the head in a hail of fire from a semiautomatic rifle. Other family members in the car were also injured.

Police said the carjacking assault was over the hubcaps on the SUV occupied by Perez. It was obvious, police said, that the thugs were after the hubcaps valued at between $500 and $1,000.

The four suspects fled - two on foot and two in the car. Police have arrested Cortez Tolen, Robert Simmons and Luther Jones. Tolen and Simmons are teen-agers. Jones is 22. A fourth suspect was expected to surrender later in the day Monday.

What makes a teen-ager - or anyone for that matter - put such a low premium on life that they would kill over hubcaps? What breed of humans would commit such a senseless murder? And the fact of the matter is that the family in the victim's car was lucky. All could easily have been killed. To the thugs, it would have made no difference.

This planned attack should bring the death sentence to these murderers. Their punishment should be so severe that it sends a clear signal to their kind that murder will not be tolerated and the punishment will be swift and severe. To seek anything less would be a disservice to the family who must now bury one of their own.

St. Louis, like countless other metropolitan areas, is in some ways a dangerous place. When the lights go out, the thugs take to the streets. Perez and his family made the mistake of taking a wrong exit. It cost him his life.

We can only hope that something good comes from this sickening murder. It can start by seeking justice for the family and appropriate punishment to the murderers.

We'll be watching.

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