Bulletproof backpacks are not the answer

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November 14, 2017

Bulletproof backpacks are not the answer

Another headline that has been assaulting my inbox since the Sunderland Springs shooting is that a Christian private school in Miami, Florida, has been offering bulletproof panels for student backpacks on the school’s store website. This is not uncommon as this idea has been floated around for years and usually surfaces after a high-profile shooting. In my opinion this is nothing more than fear profiteering. Profitfearing if you will.

While mass shootings have been a hot topic in our society, the odds of being a victim in a school shooting are rather low, especially in a big city like Miami. Not only that, but the backpacks provide minimal protection. The Miami Herald has reported the panels will withstand the force of .44 and .357 bullets, but not those from rifles, you know, the guns of choice by the majority of recent mass shooters. That’s not even mentioning that while this may be a good idea in theory, if it came to an actual active shooter, there’s no predicting how effective the backpack would actually be. That’s not even taking into account that even if you crouch behind the backpack, there’s still enough surface area exposed for a victim to be seriously injured in a shooting. Let’s also not forget that anything that’s bulletproof isn’t really bulletproof. The correct label is bullet resistant. Bulletproof vests also don’t work like you see on TV. If someone in a bulletproof vest is shot at point-blank range they don’t get up a few seconds later to subdue the evildoer. More often than not they’ve suffered broken ribs at the least which can lead to punctured lungs. Bulletproof vests are also not the best protection against knives either, obviously, or they would be called knife-proof vests. Lastly, at $125 apiece, they don’t sound like much protection to me.

Columbine no longer in the top ten worst shootings

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November 14, 2017

In the wake of the shootings at First Baptist Church in Sunderland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed, I was assaulted by the following headline by multiple news sources: “Columbine is no longer one of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history.” I understand why the media is doing this. They’re trying to get the point across that there’s been so many mass shootings recently that one of country’s greatest tragedies has been eclipsed by recent events. However, in doing so they’ve done a great disservice to many people in the process.

First off, in this society that either only reads the headlines, or only clicks on listicle links, it lessens the impact of Columbine and what happened there. While there were other school shootings in the late 1990s prior to Columbine, Columbine was the flashpoint where school shootings were added to the common American vernacular and has sadly influenced almost every school shooting since. To say it’s been somehow ‘demoted’ from this dubious list not only lessens its historical impact, but it also trivializes the lives and deaths of the 13 victims who died and the many who were left with lifetime scars from the Columbine shooting.

Secondly, lists like this that are ranked by body count, turn mass shootings into a competition. While I’m not saying this article will spur dozens of mass shooters trying to make the ‘top ten’, there may be at least one who was already planning a mass shooting who’s now looking to crack the list. This is not a competition. All the numbers listed on the article are people who are now dead due to some selfish asshole who couldn’t deal with their own inadequacies in their lives.

In my opinion this is irresponsible journalism designed to get clicks rather than to inform.

One of Jennifer Parks’ killers gets reduced sentence

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November 12, 2017
One of Jennifer Parks' killers gets reduced sentence
Jennifer Parks

I’ve been writing about the murder of 15-year-old Jennifer Parks for the past 12 years, and I always feel a little bad when I write about it. I feel bad because whenever I write a new post on whatever the latest development is, I have to write about the details of her murder which are still horrific to think about. Since Jennifer’s murder, I have become friends with people who were close to Jennifer’s family and I’ve become friends with Jennifer’s mother, Laurie Parks. While Mrs. Parks is aware of what I write, I always feel guilty when I bring up Jennifer’s murder again for whatever reason. With this post I feel twice as bad.

For those of you who may be new to the site, Jennifer was killed on July 30, 2005 by 18-year-old Jonathan Zarate and his brother, 14-year-old James Zarate. Jennifer’s family were neighbors with the Zarates in Randolph, New Jersey. The two brothers stabbed and beat Jennifer to death in their basement just because Jennifer reported to her school that James Zarate was bullying her. After the Zarate brothers killed her, they dismembered her body so they could fit her remains into a trunk. The trunk was left in the back of the Zarate family’s Jeep until they could try to dispose of her body. Her body was there 24 hours before the brothers and an accomplice tried to dispose of her remains in the Passaic River. A police officer caught them trying to dispose of Jennifer’s remains. Jonathan Zarate was tried first and in 2009 was sentenced to life in prison. Then James Zarate was tried as an adult and later that year was sentenced to life with eligibility for parole after serving 76 years of his sentence. In 2016, a resentencing was ordered for James Zarate based on court rulings that state mandatory life without parole for teens is cruel and unusual. Back in September, it was ruled that James Zarate would remain sentenced as an adult.

Now, the reason I feel twice as bad with this post is because this past week, the same judge who sentenced James Zarate to life was forced to resentence him to 50 years with the eligibility for parole after 43 1/2 years. Back in January, the New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled that juvenile killers need to have a meaningful chance for parole from their sentences. This is not surprising, considering New Jersey abolished the death penalty when they had someone like Jesse Timmendequas (TL;DR The monster who killed Megan Kanka resulting In Megan’s Law) sitting on their death row.

To this day James Zarate has denied any responsibility in the killing and has become a paralegal while in prison. Meanwhile, Jennifer Parks’ death shows the massive loss of potential that she could have given this world. Jennifer would have been around 27 now. She could have been planning for her wedding or already taking care of a young family while her parents could have been the adoring grandparents. Or she could have been a strong woman entrenched in her career or causes. Tragically, neither is the case. After Jennifer’s death her parents divorced and later after that, her father died of a heart attack. So Jennifer’s murder has cost a family more than the loss of a daughter. However, if the Daily Record will allow me to indulge in a liberal dose of fair use I’ll let Laurie Parks’ own words speak for themselves.

“The heinousness of the crime is exactly the same as it was 12 years ago. Not a day has gone by since July 30, 2005, that I don’t miss my daughter Jennifer Parks. The horrific things that the defendant and his brother did to Jennifer remain exactly the same. They tortured her, punched her, stabbed her with a knife and choked her. When she begged for her life, they shoved a bandana down her throat to stop her from screaming,” Parks said.

“What kind of people can do such a thing? Only monsters,” Parks said to the judge.

“Because of the defendant I was not there for Jennifer when she took her last breath or said her last words. I cannot even imagine the fear and pain she went through in her last moments. I lost my daughter, my husband, my home and basically my whole life and the defendant still stands before us breathing. I buried my daughter in pieces but the defendant still gets to fight for his life, something he took away from Jennifer. Something I believe he planned for a long time,” Parks said.

“He still gets to see his mother and his father. He still gets to live and stand before this court and say ‘my life matters.’ Well I say it doesn’t,” she said.

“He should have to remain behind bars. He should never experience freedom. He took that away from Jennifer, from me and all of Jennifer’s friends and family. I’d like to end by saying Jennifer Parks was a beautiful soul, a beautiful girl and she matters. Jennifer’s life matters,” Parks said.

It doesn’t get more powerful than those three words: Jennifer’s life matters. She didn’t ask to be killed. She can’t appeal her death. The New Jersey State Supreme court can’t make a judge rule her back to life. Jennifer doesn’t have the same luxuries that James Zarate does. Therefore, James Zarate’s life should be forfeit and he should be made to spend the rest of his unnatural life behind bars. Rehabilitation should not come at the expense of justice.

Mass shootings now blamed on being a Millennial

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November 6, 2017

Mass shootings now blamed on being a Millennial

Business Insider recently published an article entitled “Millennial men are killing more than any other age group in the US — and it could be because their brains aren’t fully developed.” A number of other media outlets have also run with this article. Before I even get started, I’ll say straight out the premise is bullshit.

First off, the term Millennial is incredibly vague. While most old people think Millennials are just kids who do stuff that old people don’t understand, the more scientific term are people who were born somewhere between the mid-1980s to early 2000s. First of all these generational labels are garbage. I was born in the late 60s and I’m considered part of Generation X, that includes people who were born up until the early 1980s. That’s a huge gap for an entire generation considering this includes people who grew up during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Gen X was mostly considered to be the slacker generation but that label didn’t become popular until the mid 90s where I was old enough to have been holding a job for almost 10 years. I grew up listening to heavy metal in the 80s, but other Gen Xers grew up listening to grunge and alternative in the 90s. I personally wouldn’t consider these two groups of people as belonging to the same generation. To drive the point even further home, the Columbine cowards of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were both born in the early 80s. I was 30 when Columbine happened. I would definitely not consider us all part of the same generation. When I was in high school, school shootings weren’t even a thing. So to lump everyone who was born from 1985 to 2000 in the same generational generalization is narrow-minded.

Secondly, the article presents the argument that one of the reasons these young men commit such atrocities is because the male Millennial brain doesn’t ‘fully develop’ until the age of 25. I’ve been hearing this argument for years when it comes to charging juvenile school shooters as adults. Defense attorneys often trot out the undeveloped brain concept in order to have their clients exonerated or sent to juvenile detention for mass murder. While the brain may not be fully developed until the age of 25, people know the difference between right and wrong, and life and death much younger than that. If they don’t then they’re psychopaths.

I think there are two reasons behind most of these mass shootings. The first, as I’ve said many times before, is a lot of these people were raised by inattentive parents who take no interest in their children’s lives and allow their unhealthy obsessions and mental health issues to fester. These parents are also part of the generation who told their kids they were special snowflakes and then act surprised when their kids can’t deal with failure or disappointment. That’s not exclusive to Millennials. The second is the internet. While the internet allows everyone to find a voice, it also allows them to wallow in their obsessions no matter how violent or depraved they might be.

In conclusion, you can manipulate statistics into any outcome you want. What we need to remember is that we are all responsible for own actions and so are mass murderers. There are no excuses.

Freeman High School shooting decided on coin flip

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October 30, 2017

Freeman High School shooting decided on coin flip

More news from back in September about the Freeman High School shooting near Spokane where one student, Sam Strahan, was killed and the 16-year-old shooter, Caleb Sharpe, was taken into custody.

According to documents released by investigators, Sharpe allegedly claimed that he made the decision to commit the school shooting based on the flip of a coin…

“Heads meant he would do it (shoot students at the school) and tails meant he would not do it and never think about it again, but the coin landed on heads,” according to court documents released on Wednesday. While searching Caleb’s room after the shooting, detectives found two coins, a quarter that was tail side up and a penny that was head side up.

That last part about two coins being found makes me think Sharpe is lying about the coin flip. In my opinion, he had his mind made up from day one and added the coin flip story to try to make himself sound cooler somehow. If you’re not familiar with the lore of Batman, or didn’t see The Dark Knight, Two-Face (pictured above) is a Batman villain who makes all his criminal decisions based on the flip of a coin. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Sharpe made this up and probably borrowed from the movie to make himself seem more of a badass. Instead, it makes him look more like an unoriginal coward.

Sharpe also is said to have claimed that he did not intend to kill himself after the shooting which conflicts with the fact he left a suicide note behind.

Police also released some of the writings in Sharpe’s notebook such as…

“They will be my slaves in the afterlife”, “Killing is fun and I enjoy it”, “I’m smarter than the cops”, and “Did you figure out my name yet?” were also written inside the notebook.

A longer note in the second notebook read: “Caleb Sharpe is a stupid fat f*** that can never get anything right! I am nameless I am the true spirit of the f***** known as Caleb Sharpe that stupid bitch is to (sic) soft to do what I am going to he is an ugly piece of s*** that shouldn’t be alive. I am the one who deserves to live, but I still need Caleb until I kill all of those f******* kids. Then Caleb will finaly (sic) die while I live on even if it is in prison I will live on. Semper Fi. Common sense!”

Let’s not forget this self-proclaimed Marine surrendered to the school custodian after the custodian told him to get on the floor, but I digress. To me these writings prove the shooting was not about bullying, even though Sharpe claims this, but had more to do with his own feelings of inadequacy, just like every other school shooter.

UPDATE 11/5/2017: A hearing will be held in April to determine if Sharpe will be tried as an adult.

Franklin Regional stabber pleads guilty

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October 29, 2017
Franklin Regional stabber pleads guilty
Alex Hribal

Alex Hribal was 16 when he stabbed over 20 people at Franklin Regional High School in 2014. These are no mere cuts and scrapes we’re talking about either. Some of the injuries were so bad they included one that just missed a student’s heart, another where a student’s lip had almost been removed from his face, and one where a student had been cut so deep the student’s liver was protruding from the wound.

Not surprisingly, Hribal was a columbiner and wanted to commit his spree on the 15th Anniversary of Columbine, April 20th, 2014. However, there were no classes being held at the Murrysville, Pennsylvania, high school that day, so Hribal moved up his plans to April 9th, the birthday of Columbine coward Eric Harris.

Hribal was set to be tried as an adult, but this past week the now 20-year-old Hribal pleaded guilty to 21 counts of attempted murder. The prosecution is looking for a 30 to 60 year sentence when Hribal is scheduled for sentencing in January. Technically, the judge could sentence Hribal to 21 consecutive sentences totaling around 800 years but that is unlikely to happen.

Again, I would love to know if the parents of columbiners know their kids have obsessions with mass murderers. At this point, most columbiners weren’t even born when Columbine happened. If your kid has just such an obsession, it’s not just a phase. A phase is them having some kind of hair cut you don’t care for. The hero-worship of mass murderers is a sign that they’re in severe need of mental treatment. They may not turn out to be a killer, but why take that chance?

La Loche shooter won’t spend much time in prison

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October 29, 2017
La Loche shooter won't spend much time in prison
Dene High School at the La Loche Community School

For those of you who may not remember, in 2016, a 17-year-old boy from La Loche, Saskatchewan, shot and killed two brothers at their home before going to Dene High School at the La Loche Community School and shooting and killing two faculty members. In Canada, juvenile offenders can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The gunman, who was a month away from his 18th birthday when he committed the shootings, has pleaded guilty to first degree-murder for the deaths of the school faculty members, and second-degree murder to the two brothers he killed.

For the past several months, the court has been having hearings about whether or not the gunman will be sentenced as an adult. While the decision was said to be handed down this month, the presiding judge has decided to hand down her decision in February.

Even if the shooter is sentenced as an adult, the CBC is reporting that he might not even spend a decade in prison. Canada has a new law that states juveniles sentenced as adults are not eligible to be sentenced to 25 years per victim. So under adult sentencing he could be released on parole in ten years.

That is not even close to justice for someone who killed four people in one morning who thought he was going to receive a present in custody on the anniversary of the shooting.

There’s going to come a time, in both the US and Canada, where these entitled and selfish juvenile murderers will be completely excused from their homicidal actions. Then school shootings will become even more common than they are today.

FBI releases the Sandy Hook files

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October 27, 2017

FBI releases the Sandy Hook files

This past week, the FBI released their files on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the psychopath who committed it, Adam Lanza. From what I’ve read so far, the files don’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. However, this article from the BBC has a great breakdown of the main parts of the files and I urge you to read it. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t offer my own take on it though.

Generally, Lanza was obsessed with school shootings and other mass killings and was an antisocial spoiled kid whose mother gave him anything he wanted and never told him no. Hence, the reason he had so many guns. That lackadaisical attitude toward parenting cost Nancy Lanza her own life and the lives of the children and faculty at the school.

The video games Lanza played ran the gamut. He did play some ‘violent’ video games, however, his favorite games were said to be fantasy RPGs (role-playing games like Final Fantasy), an interactive dancing game (DDR and the like), and Mario Kart. Not exactly games that ‘make you kill’. That’s not to say all the games he played were sweet and innocent. According to the article Lanza hung out on a message board “where players adopt the roles of the Columbine shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.” If I had to hazard a guess, and I will, I bet it was the message board for Super Columbine Massacre RPG or SCMRPG for short. This was a homemade game made available for free download over a decade ago. When the game first made the headlines I played it and it’s a very primitive game by today’s standards, but was an obvious tribute to the Columbine cowards. A number of other shooters have played the game including Dawson College shooter Kimveer Gill.

Lanza was also diagnosed with Asperger’s, which if he had lived, I’m sure his legal defense would have been that Asperger’s caused him to kill. While he’s not the only school shooter to ever be on the Autistic spectrum, there is no medical evidence connecting Asperger’s to mass murder. Also, to my knowledge, no school shooter has ever escaped their charges or been sentenced to a mental facility because of Asperger’s. Most people with Asperger’s go on to lead very productive and violence free lives.

Lanza also had pro-pedophile views; whether or not he was a pedophile himself is to be debated. It’s claimed he thought that sexual relationships between adults and children could “possibly be beneficial to both parties”. That sounds very similar to what Milo Whatshisname said, take that for what it’s worth. Lanza also believed that adults were improperly controlling children and felt pity for them. To me that sounds more like he was projecting his own issues, that he felt controlled by his mother even though she pretty much gave him whatever he wanted even if it was detrimental to his own mental health.

Summing up, Sandy Hook happened just like most school shootings happen. Entitled kids who think the world owes them something and when it doesn’t fall in their lap they lash out in violence. Add to that parents who have little to no involvement in their kids’ lives and let them do whatever they want without repercussions and you have a volatile and deadly mix.

Oh, and you conspiracy theorists who think Sandy Hook never happened can join Lanza in hell for all I care.

Student killed in Freeman High School shooting in September

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October 25, 2017

Student killed in Freeman High School shooting in September

Once again, I have to apologize for taking so long to post this story. I’ve been having my own personal issues to deal with which has kept me from working on the websites. But that’s neither here nor there.

Back in September, 15-year-old Caleb Sharpe entered into Freeman High School in Rockford, Washington, with two guns. He shot and killed a student of the school who was trying to talk him out of committing a school shooting. Sharpe then fired on other students wounding three. During the initial reporting of the story, bullying was mentioned as a motive.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich declined to identify the suspect or discuss what may have motivated the gun violence in detail but said: “It sounds like a case of a bullying-type of situation.”

Personally, I think that’s rather irresponsible of the good Sheriff by mentioning bullying as a motive so soon because it perpetuates the myth that most school shooters were bullied.

Sharpe was able to be subdued by a school staff member.

Again we have another parent saying ‘it can’t happen here’.

“He called me and said, ‘Mom, there are gunshots.’ He sounded so scared. I’ve never heard him like that,” Moser told the newspaper. “You never think about something happening like this at a small school.”

School shootings in the middle school to high school level almost always happen in small towns. In the biggest city in the country, New York City, they just recently had the first in-school murder of a student in 25 years and not a school shooting in that time, so stop thinking it’s a big city issue because it isn’t. In my opinion, that’s because kids who are raised in cities are exposed earlier to the reality of life not being fair.

The deceased victim was later identified as sophomore Sam Strahan and was said to be close friends with his killer.

And what do we have here? According to a classmate of Sharpe’s, Sharpe was obsessed with school shootings. I wonder if his parents were aware of this or were they of the clueless variety? That same classmate said Sharpe was not bullied. However, according to a police affidavit, Sharpe told detectives he was not targeting anyone specific but wanted to teach everyone a lesson about what happens when you bully others. Again, the question has to be asked if he was known to be a columbiner before he was allegedly bullied. Also what did the alleged bullying consist of? Sharpe also allegedly claimed that Sam Strahan bullied him, but did not target him specifically. According to this report, psychologist Peter Langman studied 83 school shootings and only four shooters were actually bullied, and I personally dispute some of the shooters he claims were bullied, but he’s the professional.

Not only was Sharpe said to be obsessed with school shootings, but he also allegedly posted videos online of himself playing with guns. And speaking of the parents, Sharpe’s father told police that Sharpe knew the combination to their gun safe. Considering that Sharpe was said to be under the care of a school counselor for suicidal leanings, that probably wasn’t the best idea. Parents need to be held responsible under the law for allowing their guns to be used by their kids in crimes like this. In my recollection only a handful of parents have actually been charged and that was usually either for obstruction or illegally purchasing the gun for their kid. Here we have a report of a witness claiming that Sharpe bragged about owning guns, making homemade bombs, and that his father bought guns for him. When you brag about things like this, like a psychopath, you kind of invite any kind of bad treatment toward you. In that same article, Sharpe’s mother says she allegedly found a suicide note from her son which was written a week before the shooting, so he may have been planning on taking the coward’s way out like most school shooters who came before him. Prior to the shooting, Sharpe was suspended from school for passing around notes to friends saying he was going to ‘do something stupid’. The day of the shooting was his first day back from suspension. Again, what did his parents do about this?

Sheriff Knezovich goes on to blame video games and other entertainment for the shooting but I’m not even going to dignify that kind of ignorance with a response. Oh wait, I guess I did.

Not surprisingly, police say they found a ‘manifesto’ in Sharpe’s bedroom and a school yearbook with Xs over some of the pictures.

As an aside, 33-year-old Nicole D. Jensen was arrested for allegedly stealing a purse out of a car of one of the mothers who went to the school to find their kid. Jensen reportedly ran up $36,000 in fraudulent charges. As far as I’m concerned this woman has no soul. Anyone who throws salt on the wounds of tragedy like this deserves more than whatever the legal punishment is for such a crime.

Sharpe has pleaded not guilty which is to be expected. It will be interesting to see what defense his legal representation will try to use.

That’s all I can do today. Remember, the sources I used are all from September around the time the shooting happened. I’ll make any corrections in a future post, but I’ll close with a question. Outside of the Pacific Northwest, did anyone even hear about this shooting?

UPDATE FROM SEPTEMBER: Two additional people were arrested for allegedly stealing the purse and running up fraudulent charges. They have been identified as 37-year-old Renee Mann and 39-year-old Larry Flett.

UPDATE 11/16/2017: Renee Mann has pleaded guilty to one count of second degree theft and one count of identity theft in the second degree.

Reward renewed in Carina Saunders murder

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October 15, 2017

Reward renewed in Carina Saunders murder

This past Friday, it was six years since the remains of 19-year-old Carina Saunders were found inside a duffel bag behind a store in Bethany, Oklahoma. Also this past Friday, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation renewed the $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Carina’s killer. This reward has been offered multiple times in the past but has to be renewed after 90 days according to state law. Also, $10,000 is the maximum reward that can be legally offered in the state of Oklahoma.

Many theories abound as to why Carina was murdered and dismembered. The prevailing thought is that Carina was somehow involved with human trafficking, and was killed to make an example. Several suspects have been previously arrested for her murder but charges were dropped, however charges could be refiled at a later time if any conclusive evidence indicates those suspects were involved.

Earlier this year, police seized items, which belonged to Carina, from a home where Carina was last seen alive. The person who owned the home was believed to have prostituted Carina but maintains his innocence. State investigators also believe there is a cell phone video of Carina’s murder in someone’s possession.

Call OSBI at 1-800-522-8017 with information or email a tip to tips@osbi.ok.gov.