Unfortunately, gunfire between police and suspects in certain parts of St. Louis is fairly common. City officials can talk all they want and point to statistics all they want but the fact is, parts of St. Louis are dangerous.
What baffles me is the bizarre reaction of some leaders within the impacted neighborhoods who blame police for the violence. They play the race card on every conceivable occasion. And that bogus ploy just divides our society even more along racial lines. By any definition, they are doing a disservice to their community.
Here's the latest incident. Thursday night police took a search warrant for drug and weapons violations to the home of a man on probation for federal weapons charges. Police had gathered information that guns were in the house in clear violation of the suspect's probation.
When uniformed officers entered the house, multiple shots were fired at the officers. One officer was struck in the arm and his body armor stopped a bullet that grazed his stomach. Police returned fire and killed the suspect. The officer is in serious condition but is expected to live.
But the Rev. James T. Morris lead a rally at city hall Friday calling the shooting "another case of excessive force." He wondered why police "insist on shooting to kill."
Well Rev. Morris, let me answer that question for you. Police were fired upon by a suspect with a history of gun violations. Their lives were clearly in danger. To ask police to use restraint while under fire is asinine. They were protecting their lives and perhaps the lives of others.
In 2000 and again in 2004, suspects have killed police in St. Louis. It's a dangerous profession. Anyone who fires on a police officer should not expect restraint or a non-lethal response. The officers did exactly what they should have done in exactly the manner which was appropriate to the situation.
If our society is so divided that some believe a policeman should not respond to gunfire, then we're in a helluva mess. Were it not for the body armor Thursday night, this particular police officer could well have been another sad statistic. When a so-called "leader" of a neighborhood makes such outrageous accusations toward police officers, you have to wonder about that leader's motives.
Where are the rational voices within the neighborhood? Where are the good citizens who stand by the police and recognize that appropriate force is required in a lethal incident? I am appalled that the citizens of St. Louis don't rally in strong support of any effort to remove criminals from the streets. And when a suspect takes deadly aim at a police officer, there should be no question whatsoever on just what the response should be.
The Rev. Morris is wrong. And those who stand by in silence and allow him to make ridiculous charges are wrong as well.