It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
or so it must have seemed for those who survived the second crime.
Tragically, it was most certainly only the worst of times for those who did not (as well as the one who did) survive the first crime.
Earlier this week, two masked gunmen crashed the party of 11 college students in College Park, GA. The armed intruders first separated the men from the women, and then collected all wallets and cell phones. Says survivor Charles Baily, “…the gunmen started counting bullets. The other guy asked how many [bullets] he had. He said he had ‘enough’.”
Thank heavens one student then courageously drew a gun from a backpack and shot at the invader guarding the men. He missed, but the cowardly bully ran away, leaving only one invader to contend with. The armed student then entered the room where the women were being held, and saw that the other invader was about to rape his girlfriend. He told the girls to get down and began a shootout. 23-year-old Calvin Lavant was shot before jumping from a window and attempting to run away. He didn’t make it very far, and died on the sidewalk. When the story was reported on, police were already narrowing in on the surviving suspect.
It must have seemed like the worst of times when the armed invaders first arrived, and the students were having thoughts like Bailey’s: “Apparently, his intent was to rape and murder us all.” And it must have seemed like the best of times when one heroic young man leveled the playing field by wielding his own weapon, and they all made it out ALIVE and mostly unscathed (one girl was caught in the cross fire, but is expected to make a full recovery). Thankfully, because of a gun in the hands of a law-abiding citizen, the second crime turned out to be a less than harrowing experience for the victims.
The first crime is a tragedy worth remembering. The Wichita Horror or Wichita Massacre, as it has come to be known, took place on the cold winter night of December 14, 2000. Five young whites, two women and three men, all in their mid to late twenties, had retired for the night in the mens’ triplex. Just after 11:00 PM two armed black men, brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr (aged 22 and 20), forced their way into the condo. At gunpoint they ordered all five victims into a bedroom and told them to strip naked. The next few hours were wrought with terror, filled with indignities, suffering, and finally death.
The victims were shoved into a closet, then brought out one at a time and in pairs. The Carrs forced them all to have sex with each other, matching them up as they pleased…including forcing the two women to perform sex acts on each other. Both women were also raped multiple times by the Carr brothers.
The assailants ransacked the home and then took the victims one at a time to an ATM in order to rob them more thoroughly. Then the three men were stuffed into the trunk of a car, the women riding with the Carrs, because all five people wouldn’t fit in the trunk. All five were naked, the men completely, and the women from the waist down. It was about 17° outside when the victims were forced out of the vehicles and made to kneel in a snowy soccer field, execution style. They all received a shot to the head and then their bodies were driven over with a truck. The Carrs drove back to the original crime scene and loaded the stolen truck with valuables from the triplex, and beat and stabbed the pet dog the death.
Miraculously, one of the women, known as H.G., survived the entire ordeal, including a close-range gun shot to the head and being run over. Thanks to a hair clip, she was able to get up and run a mile through the snow, naked and bleeding, to get help.
The Carr brothers were caught, charged with 113 crimes, and convicted on almost all counts, including multiple counts of capital murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, rape, and animal cruelty. They were sentenced to death.
When I heard the story yesterday of the second crime…the one that ended with a dead intruder rather than 11 dead victims…I immediately recalled the vague memory of learning of the Wichita Horror years ago. The crimes began very similarly, but ended very differently. The difference? A gun.
“Active compliance” is just one of the many fascinating issues that Richard Poe addresses in his piece, The “Death Wish” Question, which was written in the wake of the Wichita Horror.
“ACCORDING TO UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Berkeley criminologist Franklin Zimring, the best way to survive a robbery is through ‘active compliance.’ In other words, do exactly what the criminal says, as quickly as possible.
“However, the statistics suggest otherwise. After examining data from the Department of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey from 1979 through 1987, Gary Kleck found that the best way to survive a criminal attack was to resist–with a gun.
“Women were 2.5 times more likely to suffer serious injury if they offered no resistance than if they resisted with a gun. Having a gun made the crucial difference. Women who resisted without a gun were four times more likely to be seriously hurt than those who resisted with a gun. ‘In other words,’ writes John Lott in More Guns, Less Crime, ‘the best advice is to resist with a gun, but if no gun is available, it is better to offer no resistance than to fight.’
“In the case of men–no doubt, because of their greater physical strength–having a gun made considerably less difference in the success rate of their resistance and in the likelihood of their being injured. But it still proved advantageous. Men who offered no resistance turned out to be 1.4 times more likely to be seriously hurt than those who resisted with a gun. Men who resisted without a gun were 1.5 times more likely to be injured than those resisting with a gun.
“Kleck’s study is compelling. But these dry statistics tell only part of the story.
“There is another reason for people to think twice before engaging in ‘active compliance.’ Victims who choose passivity risk far more than mere injury or death.”
With these two stories in my head, unwelcome thoughts but prudent to dwell on for a short time at least, I asked my husband last night to show me again exactly how our gun works. He’s shown me before on multiple occasions, and I have even shot it a few times, but I feel this exercise in caution is necessary every so often. It is practical preparation for possible prevention…in a potential scenario that I will probably, hopefully, never face.