I HAD A MUCH DIFFERENT POST planned for today. But then the identity of a homicide victim was released by the Rice County Sheriff’s Department and my focus shifted. I knew the 41-year-old man shot to death in neighboring Morristown early Tuesday morning. A suspect was arrested at the scene and has been charged with second-degree murder.
The victim, Brian, grew up two blocks away, where he and his sister lived with their grandparents. The siblings attended the same Christian day school as my children. The pair were older. On the occasional days the school bus didn’t run, their grandpa would stop to pick up my girls and all four kids rode to school together.
Much time has elapsed since then. Yet, I remember Brian, his short, slim frame and reddish hair. Many years have passed since I’ve seen him out and about walking around Faribault, always wearing a backpack. I have no idea what he did in life, but that connection to him and his family all those years ago means something. My heart hurts for his sister.
WITHIN MY CIRCLE OF CONNECTIONS
This isn’t the first time homicide has indirectly affected me. In May 2004, the father of a close friend was murdered. In May 2010, the sister of a blogger friend from Duluth was murdered by her ex-husband. In May 2013, a former neighbor’s daughter and unborn baby were killed by their husband/father.
Violence has touched my life too many times.
IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD
In May 1999, a SWAT team swept through my neighborhood searching for a knife used in the stabbing death of a 19-year-old some two blocks from my house.
On another occasion, a breathless young man showed up on our doorstep one evening, pleading for us to let him inside. Randy and I refused, not wanting to put ourselves or our family in danger. Instead I called 911. As I begged the police to hurry, a group of men rounded the corner of our house obviously looking for the guy at our door. That they didn’t dash up our front steps and attack him still surprises me all these years later. The potential for violence was real. Eventually law enforcement arrived and left with the young man safely inside a squad car.
And then there was the middle-of-the-night awakening to a woman across the street screaming for help. Screaming for someone to call 911, which I did. Again, I urged officers to hurry. Eventually police arrived as did an ambulance. I never learned what happened on that night all those years ago, only that no one died.
When I count all of these violent acts to which I have been indirectly exposed, I consider the number high. I expect most of you have never known a murder victim (or a murder victim’s family) or had to call 911 to report a crime in progress. I’m thankful if that fits you.
HOW I’VE REACTED
I’ve learned a few things through these experiences. I’ve learned that, no matter who you are or where you live, violence can touch you personally. And when it does, you find the strength, the resolve, the ability to do something. That may mean making a 911 call. That may mean showing up with food and a hug and doing anything you can to support a friend. That may mean mailing an encouraging card, phoning, texting, emailing. Remembering. For those families who’ve lost loved ones to acts of violence, remembering is vitally important. Their lives are forever changed and they need our love and support.
These are my thoughts today as I consider how violence has, once more, indirectly entered my life.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling