Two Violent Acts, On The Same Day, One Country Apart, Fourteen Lives Lost

Act One:  In the early morning hours of April 23, 2018, 29-year old Travis Reinking parked outside a Nashville, Tennessee Waffle House, then left his car to shoot and kill two patrons leaving the restaurant, before entering and killing two more people inside.  Bad enough, but the murder spree would have been much worse were it not for the heroics of an unarmed patron.  When Reinking paused to reload his weapon (AR-15), 29-year old Waffle House patron James Shaw, Jr. made his move.  He wrestled the rifle away and threw it behind the restaurant counter, causing the assailant to immediately exit the restaurant.  Shaw was left with a burned hand from grabbing the hot rifle barrel. No question, he saved lives with his extraordinary act of heroism. Following up on a citizen tip, police were able to apprehend Reinking early that afternoon.  Booked on four counts of criminal homicide, he’s being held on a $2-million bond.

Reinking was not new to law enforcement.  In 2017, he was detained by the Secret Service for trespassing in a White House restricted area, claiming he wanted to talk to the President.  Four firearms were subsequently discovered in his possession, and were taken from him, but were later turned over to his father.  Apparently the father returned at least two of the guns to his son, for which he himself may now be in trouble with authorities.  In the days prior to the Waffle House murders, Reinking had led police on a high-speed chase through Nashville in a stolen BMW, but they eventually lost him in traffic, and didn’t know his identity. Regrettable, in that apprehension at that time would have led to his arrest, possibly stopping his later murder spree early that Monday morning.   Based on past episodes, it is known, certainly now that Reinking has serious mental issues, among others, his claim that singer Taylor Swift was stalking him.  His family indicated that he had had delusional episodes since 2014.

It’s clear in hindsight, with his previous run-ins with the law, and in possession of weapons, that he should have been forcibly, if necessary, confined to a mental facility.  One of those seemingly increasing instances where someone is known to be a danger, to himself or others, and hasn’t crossed the line far enough, or often enough, to be legally detained.  Such might very well have saved the lives of those four individuals whose only “crime” was enjoying an early-morning breakfast, at the wrong place and the wrong time.  No question, based on increasing episodes, we seem to have a slowly emerging mental health crisis in America.  Or perhaps behind the opening curtain, a rampaging one.  (Reference: Fox News On-Line, Breitbart, and others).

Act Two:  Same day, early that afternoon, in a rented van, traveling at a high rate of speed, Canadian citizen, 25-year old Alek Minassian suddenly pulled onto the sidewalk of a busy Toronto retail area and plowed into the throng of pedestrians, killing 10 of them (nine at the scene) and wounding an additional 15.  Fortunately, he was apprehended quickly, and will be charged with multiple counts of murder.  From pictures, Minassian appears to be of Middle Eastern descent.  He was described as a loaner, by those who knew him, with possible mental issues, and with an apparent vendetta against women brought on, per his FB postings, by his inability to successfully date them.  The cruel irony is how the name Minassian  might well somewhat resemble, and remind us, of the word assassin.

While Canadian authorities seem hesitant to term this mass murder event as terrorism, it mirrors the prior radical Islamic practice of employing vehicles as murder weapons in some European countries.  And regardless of Canadian hesitancy, if it looks like terrorism, feels like terrorism, acts like terrorism, folks, it’s terrorism!  How could the purposeful mowing down of innocent men and women, whether by home-grown or immigrant perpetrator, be anything else.

“The Economist’s 2017 study of 60 cities ranked Toronto as North America’s safest city, and the fourth-safest in the world,” (Jason L. Riley, Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2018).  The Canadian government goes to great lengths, beyond what most realists in the U.S. would call reasonable, to showcase to the world their country’s inclusiveness.  Inclusiveness, without real, credible assimilation into the character, values, laws, and language of the host country, isn’t inclusiveness.  It’s a formula for problems.  Inclusiveness is a hollow claim if immigrant groups are permitted to establish communities within communities, while maintaining virtually all aspects and practices of the country from which they came.  We are not immune to this practice here in America, where there are certain areas where even law enforcement is hesitant to enter for safety reasons. Establishing separate “countries” within a host country is exactly what many European nations have allowed to happen with the ridiculous, now regrettable, practice of permitting waves of migrants to emigrate, creating, in essence, open borders!  No surprise then when national character and customs, including native language, begin to erode, as is already happening within several nations there.

Both of these murderous events, in Nashville and Toronto, share a regrettable reality, despite the difference in murder weapon used.  They are two different forms of the same thing:  mental defect.  In Nashville, a litany of past troublesome behavior, finally acted out with fatal results.  In Toronto, rage or a distorted sense of destiny led this past Monday to purposeful mass vehicular homicide.  In that latter case, regardless of the dictionary definition, terrorism stems from a mental defect, imposed on innocents, by a brainwashed, delusional individual, held captive by a dark ages ideology, one that permits and encourages the execution of any and all of those who hold opposing beliefs.  It seems obvious that we, and others, must find ways to get a handle on the true extent of mental illness, especially when prone to harm, self or others, here and elsewhere, and then find and establish effective ways, by counseling, medication, or law enforcement, and by force if necessary (individual’s rights vs. society safety), to stop or significantly reduce the imposition of violence on one, or many, innocent persons.  Clearly, it is time to turn our efforts from yet more research, to instead build upon what we already know, and initiate aggressive, corrective, productive, protective, goal-achieving societal action.  (Reference: Fox News On-Line, Breitbart, BBC News)