Almost seven years ago, I wrote a piece for National Review Online called “This is Crazy,” in which I described the aftermath of a fatal shooting in South Los Angeles. It was one of the thirteen murders committed in L.A. that Labor Day weekend, and one of the hundreds I’ve seen in my long career as a cop, but for some reason it has haunted me more than most of the others.
I’m sorry to admit it, for doing so seems to dishonor the victim’s memory, but now I can’t even recall his name. If he hadn’t died that afternoon, he’d be about 27 years old today, maybe with a family of his own. I think back on the day he was killed and on and the faces of his sisters as they rushed to the scene and pressed up against the yellow tape to see his car, and then in that moment to realize it was their own brother’s blood all over the interior.
And I remember the young man’s father, who came to the scene after the sisters and the other relatives, and who stood among them so stoically, with so much dignity, even in the grip of such overwhelming sadness. As I wrote of him at the time, “Tonight he can only think of the baby boy he held for the first time 20 years ago and worried about every single day since, only to see him come to this.”