Violent crimes committed by children always leave questions.
According to WFLA in Tampa, a 14-year-old boy fatally shot his mother and critically wounded her fleeing boyfriend outside the mother’s home in Riverview, Florida on Saturday.
When deputies arrived on the still-active scene, they disarmed the boy using a 40 mm launcher. The non-lethal projectile prevented the boy from reaching for his weapon again.
The deputies’ successful disarming of the alleged gunman, however, came after a tense 16-minute standoff. It also revealed some confusion about how the entire tragedy unfolded.
Around 4 p.m. Saturday, deputies responded to multiple calls. One indicated that a man had fled his house after being shot. Another reported a man running through the neighborhood waving a gun.
Deputies encountered the boy a few blocks from his mother’s home. Apparently, the young gunman had pursued the wounded boyfriend through the neighborhood.
The boyfriend — shot five times in the face, hands and lower torso — arrived at Tampa General Hospital in critical condition.
Meanwhile, back at the scene of the original shooting, deputies found the boy’s mother lying dead in her driveway.
At that point, deputies also encountered the young gunman’s older brother.
The older brother told deputies that he had heard an argument between his mother and her boyfriend. Then, the older brother heard gunshots.
When he left his bedroom, the older brother saw the 14-year-old allegedly shoot his mother. The older brother then fled when the 14-year-old turned the gun in his direction.
“The scene behind me is one that nightmares are made of,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
According to Chronister, the alleged gunman had no criminal history. Now, the boy has no future either.
“This 14-year-old young boy’s life is over too,” Chronsiter added. “He will never see the outside of a detention facility.”
Chronister explained that the 14-year-old probably first shot the boyfriend, killed his own mother and then pursued the boyfriend through the neighborhood so as to “finish the job,” according to Fox News.
The sheriff expressed deep sadness.
“This family’s lives have been changed forever. They lost a mother,” Chronister said. “This is heartbreaking.”
One can only speculate about the nature of the argument between the boys’ mother and her boyfriend.
Likewise, these initial reports tell us nothing about the 14-year-old’s mental health history.
One question we can raise, however, involves the boy’s access to a firearm.
In my adolescent years — most thankfully — I never heard my parents engaged in a serious argument. Had I heard such an argument, however, I would not have known where to find a gun.
In fact, at that age I would not have known if either of my parents even owned a gun.
Furthermore, had I learned that such a weapon existed, I would not have known where to look for it.
Finally, had I known of a gun and where to look for it, I still could not have accessed it. My father, a former U.S. military, would not have permitted it.
Obviously these qualify as blessings, not as excuses to judge those who did not grow up in the same circumstances.
On the other hand, we cannot ignore the sequence of events required to turn a 14-year-old boy into an alleged murderer: a triggering argument, knowledge of where to find a gun and then access to that gun.
Someone — most likely multiple adults — should not have allowed any of these things to happen.
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