Aftermath in Crandon, Wisconsin: The police arrive to draw the chalk outlines following a lethal rampage by one of their own that killed six young people and left another critically wounded.
Seven young people, all of them legal minors, were victims of firearms violence on Sunday morning in the hamlet of Crandon, Wisconsin. Six were killed immediately, the seventh critically wounded. All of them were unarmed: What the federal government is pleased to call the "law" forbids American citizens younger than 21 to purchase and carry a sidearm.
The assailant, Tyler Peterson, was also a a legal minor. However, he was a full-time sheriff's deputy and part-time police officer. Since he had been deemed "good enough for government work" and spent his working hours in a State-issued costume, he had ready access to an AR-15 rifle (the non-military version of the M-16).
Apparently angry with an estranged girlfriend (who was among the victims) and provoked by something that happened during a "video and pizza party," Peterson, who was off duty, left the gathering briefly, returned with his rifle, and sprayed thirty rounds at his victims. Peterson fled the scene, only to be killed by an individual identified by Crandon Mayor Gary Bradley as a “sniper.”
Keith Van Cleve, Sheriff of Wisconsin's Forest County, coyly refused to confirm that the sniper who killed Peterson was a police officer.
It would be heartening to learn that the sniper who brought down the mass murderer was a civilian, perhaps a public-spirited resident of northern Wisconsin who put his hunting rifle to its optimal use: After all, the entire point of the Second Amendment is to ensure that law-abiding citizens have the means to kill agents of the State who attack or threaten the innocent. It's more likely, of course, that Peterson was killed by another law enforcement officer, long after he'd dispatched his victims to eternity.
David Franz, who lives near the duplex where the massacre took place, summarized the community's reaction to Deputy Peterson's rampage: “How did he get through the system?”
A better question would be: Why would we assume that “the system” would winnow out people capable of murderous outbursts of violence? And yet a better question would be: Why do people persist in the assumption that there is something about government "service" that purifies those authorized to exercise lethal violence on behalf of the State?
The combination of increased federal police spending, militarization of law enforcement at all levels, and relaxed standards for police recruits has created an environment of virtual police impunity, at least for lethal violence committed on duty. While I pray that Tyler Peterson is the rarest of anomalies, it seems ingenuous to believe this is the case.
In August 2006, an off-duty Salt Lake City police officer named Marcus Barrett threatened a 21-year-old Balkan refugee with a gun following a shoving match at a YMCA basketball game. And one wonders what kind of off-duty amusements are favored by David B. Thompson, the degenerate sheriff's deputy in Multhomah County, Oregon who rhapsodized about the sensual thrill of Tazing and "pulling the trigger" on suspects.
Descriptions of Tyler Peterson by those who knew him emphasize that he seemed to be utterly "normal," "average," and disinclined toward murderous violence. The handsome, clean-cut young man we see in his photograph certainly doesn't appear to be capable of killing six of his peers -- including former schoolmates -- in a moment of complete derangement. But he did.
This atrocity will almost certainly be exploited by advocates of civilian disarmament, an inconvenient narrative notwithstanding: How do we shoehorn the message that "Only the police and the military should have firearms" when the latest atrocity was carried out by an off-duty police officer? This will be a daunting challenge, but I'm sure that the civilian disarmament lobby's gift for sophistry is equal to the task.
In recent years, police agencies across the nation have been equipping their officers with AR-15s. This provides a useful example of creeping militarization: Notes the New York Times, "Years ago, law enforcement specialists like SWAT teams were the only officers to carry assault weapons, but now even some small town police agencies" -- such as Crandon, Wisconsin (population circa 2000) -- are arming officers with the AR-15...."
Actually the Times committed a common, but significant, breach of anti-gun etiquette.
When owned by civilians, those weapons are generally called "assault rifles," an expression connoting incipient criminal violence. In the sanctified hands of police, however, the same firearms are baptized "patrol rifles" -- an expression with overtones of security.
So I suppose the first task for the Gun Grabbers' department of semantic engineering will be to sort out whether Peterson's murder weapon is an "assault rifle."
Significantly, Miami was one of the first major cities to arm police with assault - er, patrol rifles. This was an initiative by Police Chief John F. Timoney, who is also an advocate of civilian disarmament (in addition to being a compelling candidate for the dubious title "America's Worst Cop"). Timoney was the creator of the "Miami Model" of crowd control -- the use of overpowering paramilitary force to dispel peaceful demonstrators (also referred to by some local police as "scurrying cockroaches," an expression with a strong "law 'n' order" pedigree).
I've shared this before, but this clip displays the mindset Timoney and his associates have cultivated among those to entrusted with, ah, patrol rifles and broad discretion in using them against the public:
Given displays of this sort by our supposed protectors, the salient question about the Crandon Massacre may be: Why doesn't this sort of thing happen more often?
We're now told that Tyler Peterson, who was 19 years old when he was hired as a full-time deputy sheriff, went Vesuvius after some of the people at the "video and pizza party" taunted him for being a "worthless pig."
It's possible that this wasn't intended as a slur against Peterson because he was a police officer. However, Peterson's personality -- as perceived by at least one of his schoolmates -- suggests that the slur was inspired by the young man's occupation, and the attitude he brought to his job.
“He didn’t have a lot of friends because he was arrogant,” Michael Zold, 20, told the New York Times. “He was always very stuck up, like he always had an attitude, ‘I have money, I’m better than everybody else.’... After he became an officer, it was a power trip to him.”
The AP has confirmed that the AR-15 used as the murder weapon "is the type used by the sheriff's department" of Forest County, but adds that investigators have "not confirmed whether the gun came from law enforcement."
Mike Kegley, identified as a "longtime friend" the murderer, reports that Peterson paid him a visit following the attack and was the picture of composure and, supposedly, remorse: "He wasn't running around crazy or anything. He was very, very sorry for what he did." After feeding Peterson, Kegley called 911. Apparently Peterson's remorse wasn't sufficient to prompt him to surrender.
After throwing some lead through the windshield of a police car driven by a colleague, Peterson took flight, speaking at length by cell phone with his police chief and the city prosecutor about surrender arrangements. For whatever reason, Peterson apparently decided not to submit to arrest, dying in a shootout with other law enforcement officers. There appears to be reason to believe he may have died at his own hand, rather than from a sniper's shot.
As to the reason I think the "worthless pig" remark may not have been inspired by Peterson's law enforcement career:
One of Peterson's victims, 20-year-old Bradley Schultz, was a third-year criminal justice major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; he planned on becoming a homicide detective. It seems at least a bit unlikely that someone planning on that career would be socializing with people given to casual denigration of police officers.
Schultz's aunt, Sharon Pisarek, told the press that "from what they've told us, there was a girl next to him and he was covering her, protecting her."
Instinctive courage of that kind is a rarity in people of any age, and it suggests that if Schultz hadn't been killed by a crazed deputy sheriff, he would have become a peace officer of exceptional character -- assuming the present system would permit this outcome.