A World Apart

Two news stories caught OneOldCop’s attention recently. One was in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the other in Mobile, Alabama. The incidents reported were separated by seven weeks and 900 miles. However, details of the incidents reflect much more separation than the time and distance.

Published reports allege that Adric White was attempting to rob a Family Dollar store in Mobile, Alabama on November 12, 2014. His attempt was foiled when an armed customer confronted Mr. White. Other published reports allege that two brothers and some of their friends burglarized Tech Boyz, an electronics store, in Fayetteville, North Carolina on December 29, 2014. The burglary was recorded by the store’s security cameras.

The brothers are both juveniles. Mr. White is also young, just eighteen years of age. The brothers and their friends reportedly broke into a closed business and stole electronic devices. Mr. White was reportedly armed with a handgun and was threatening a Family Dollar store employee with that handgun.  An armed customer realized what was happening and stepped in to stop him.

These events could have taken place anywhere. It is likely that during the period between November 12 and December 29 multiple armed robberies and burglaries were attempted or committed. The perpetrators of those crimes very likely ranged in age from very young juveniles to well over Mr. White’s eighteen years. It is entirely possible that similar incidents occurred in much closer geographical and temporal proximity. Yet, it is likely there were no other incidents that made the same societal statement as these.

Without direct knowledge of the individuals involved in these matters knowing all the similarities and differences between them is impossible. As noted above, one similarity is age.  The oldest brother is only two years younger than Mr. White.  Unfortunately, for Mr. White, he is on the wrong side of his eighteenth birthday.  He will be handled as an adult, while the brothers will be handled as juveniles.  Beyond those differences little has been made public, but there are reasons to believe the similarities between the suspects are greater than the differences.

The important differences however are not differences between the three young men. The  Important differences are the apparent differences between their families. Those differences speak volumes to the problems the country faces today, and they may speak volumes to the future of these young men.

Published reports indicate Mr. White’s family responded in a manner one is unfortunately coming to expect in certain parts of our culture. They were not, at least initially, upset that a member of their family was caught in the middle of an armed robbery.  In fact, that was nothing new.  Mr. White had been arrested several weeks earlier for armed robbery, and  was out of jail on bond.  His family did not seem to be upset about Mr. White’s behavior.  They were upset that a Good Samaritan stepped in and stopped the robbery.

One can understand the family was upset that the Good Samaritan had to shoot Mr. White to stop the robbery.  One might expect that they would claim the armed citizen did not have to shoot Mr. White, even though White was armed.  One could have understood if they claimed, as many do, that the person using deadly force could have disarmed Mr. White without shooting him.  The families of criminals, excuse me, alleged criminals shot or injured during attempted crimes are always claiming something less than deadly force could have been used.

In this case Mr. White’s family reportedly came up with a new course of action for anyone witnessing a crime in progress.  Their initial, and not so initial, response was not like any this writer remembers from over twenty-five years in law enforcement.  They reportedly thought the Good Samaritan should have gone on about his business and not interfered with the armed robbery.  Yes! Their response was that the Good Samaritan had no business interfering with  Mr. White’s activities.  One published source reported some of their reactions as follows:

After speaking with his parents, they1 called to demand the network not air the interview. Reporters spoke with another family member, however; and her position is far from sympathetic to those lives White threatened during his robbery attempt. Instead, she chose to lambaste the man whose quick action put an end to the violent ambush.

“If his life was not in danger,” she said, “if no one had a gun to him, if no one pointed a gun at him, what gives him the right to think it’s OK to just shoot someone.”

She said the customer “should have just left the store and went where you have to go in your car or whatever.”

Other sources reported variations of the same theme. Mr. White’s family seemed to feel the citizen who intervened should have walked away and let Mr. White continue the robbery.2

The difference between Mr. White’s family’s response and the response of the family of the juvenile burglars is as stark as the difference between “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and “Silent Night.” When the parents of the young men who burglarized the store in Fayetteville realized their sons had been involved in a crime, they took action.  They marched the two boys down to the police department and had them turn themselves in.  The incidents took place a few hundred miles apart, but the families’ responses were worlds apart.

I will close this piece with two last questions. First, who do you think has the better chance of learning a lesson and becoming a contributing member of society? Second, which family is becoming more rare in the United States today, one that teaches there are consequences to one’s actions, or one that teaches people should just mind their own business?

I hope there are more families like the one in North Carolina, but I am afraid they are a dying breed.

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1. From the context and other sources, “they” refers to the parents of Mr. White. After giving an interview that may not have been flattering, THEY demanded it not be aired. Apparently, the television station complied with their request.

2. One would hope Mr. White’s family would release a more measured statement after they calm down, but what people say under the pressure of the moment is much closer to their true feelings than the one they make after a good night’s sleep and consultation with their attorney.

©OneOldCop – 2015

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