When will it all end? Unfortunately, not in my lifetime.

Auburn was struck by tragedy again this week when one police officer, a husband and father, was shot dead and two others injured. This comes just months after another Auburn officer was shot in the line of duty responding to a robbery report.

On Monday, these three officers were responding to a domestic relations disturbance. Police will tell you they dread domestic relations situations, because they are so volatile.

Officer William Buechner, a young husband and father, was killed and Officers Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott were injured by the gunfire.

But it seems every morning that you wake up there has been violence somewhere in the country. Locations that we used to consider “safe places,” like schools and even churches, are not immune anymore, but often are targets for the violence.

The suspect in the latest case apparently anticipated a shootout with police. He not only had an assault rifle but body armor as well. Perhaps he intended to take his violence somewhere else. Or it even seems somewhat like it was a set-up — that the police were called to the residence for a reason. 

Reminds me of the killing spree in Geneva County in March 2009 when 10 people were killed before the gunman went to a factory from which he had recently been fired and took his own life.

I spoke with Frankie Lindsey, a childhood friend who was chief of police in Geneva at the time and where he is now mayor, and he told me that the killer basically out fire-powered the local police. The killer had a high-powered rifle, but the police only had handguns.

The killing spree went across several miles starting in Kinston and continuing through Samson and on to Geneva, and the victims included the killer’s own mother and a couple of children. 

At one point Frankie tried to block the killer’s car with his police vehicle. The killer fired at him with his rifle and the bullet whizzed by Frankie’s head, striking the front seat.

By the grace of God, Frankie was not physically injured. The Geneva police department has since obtained some more-powerful weapons, but you do not expect to carry a high-powered rifle to a domestic situation, like the Auburn officers were called to this week.

At the outset of this column, I asked when will it all end? I do not know if it will ever end, but I do not believe that semi-automatic weapons should be in the hands of anyone but the police.

And we obviously have to do better in the area of mental health. I do not believe the answer for the schools is to arm the teachers, although certainly we need more resource officers in the schools.

They say that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

That is the action or lack thereof that we seem to be taking with regard to societal violence. Do nothing and think things are going to get better. 

Retired Auburn attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. He is a former state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and former state editor for The Columbus Ledger. Email him your comments about the newspaper to doneddins@auburnlaw.us. 

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