Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
BRISTOL, TN – On my short commute to work on Thursday morning I passed by the barricades, the cones, the multiple flashing police cars and emergency vehicles. The first thought that entered my mind was a bad car accident, or maybe a tornado or lightning storm had knocked down a power line.
When I looked at the local news site later, I found that it had been something else altogether, a 2:20 a.m. shooting rampage by a “lone gunman” that started at a Days Inn and continued with random shots at random drivers, resulting in several injuries and the tragic death of newspaper carrier Jennifer Rooney, a 44-year-old mother of two who was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time while driving to pick up papers for her morning route.
Although the suspect was wounded by police and hospitalized, more than a day went by before authorities released his name. The more time that went by, the more I felt that police must have REALLY wanted to have their ducks in a row, perhaps because the suspect and motivations for this shooting were potential lightning rods.
Indeed, my suspicions were confirmed with the Friday afternoon release of the suspect’s name – Lakeem Keon Scott, a 37-year-old black male who preliminary investigations showed was angry over recent shootings involving black suspects and white police officers. Armed with a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle, Scott fired a shot into the Days Inn window, striking Watts, then proceeded to fire off a few shots at oncoming traffic before getting into a gunfight with responding police.
Scott was neutralized, then transported to Bristol Regional Medical Center where he remains in serious but stable condition.
A Bristol Tennessee Police Officer, Matthew Cousins, was wounded in the leg in the gunfight but, thankfully, he’s been treated and released.
Deborah Watts is in serious but stable condition, although friends say she could lose her arm.
Jennifer Rooney was not so fortunate, and her children will face life without a mother.
All the victims were white.
As to Scott’s motives, according to WCYB, “The preliminary investigation revealed Scott may have targeted people and officers after being troubled by recent incidents involving African-Americans and law enforcement officers in other parts of the country.”
So, was this a hate crime? You be the judge.
I’ll go ahead and echo the sentiments of anyone who lives within a mile of a tragedy like this, especially in a small town that typically experiences very little major crime – THIS is entirely too close to home.
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