Kalamazoo awash in gun violence

Two people were seriously injured, including a 14-year-old girl, and a 17-year-old boy and five adults were killed as gunfire sprang from a car in three separate incidents in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Saturday, the New York Times reports.

Authorities arrested Jason B Dalton, 45, a driver for Uber, in connection with the shootings. Victims of the shooting ranged in age from 14 to 74, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The victims of Saturday’s shooting were identified as follows:

  • Tyler Smith, 17, a student at Mattawan High School, died at a Kia dealership
  • Richard Smith, 53, of Kalamazoo, died at a Kia dealership
  • Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, Michigan, died in a Cracker Barrel parking lot
  • Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Battle Creek, Michigan, died in a Cracker Barrel parking lot
  • Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek, Michigan, died in a Cracker Barrel parking lot
  • Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek, Michigan, died in a Cracker Barrel parking lot

The 14-year-old girl was a front-seat passenger in the car with the last three victims on the list. She is in critical condition at a hospital in Kalamazoo and is said to be hanging on for her life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2013, firearms resulted in more than 84,000 nonfatal injuries, like the 14-year-old girl in Kalamazoo, more than 11,000 deaths by homicide, more than 21,000 deaths by suicide, 505 deaths due to accidental discharge, such as when a 4-year-old child plays with the gun, and 281 deaths for which a specific intent couldn’t be determined. Over all, 33,169 people died from firearms in 2013 in the US.

Editorial

This story has many interesting aspects, but one side story is the user comments posted on the two national news sources cited above. While comments on the New York Times tend to call for better restrictions on guns, including more stringent background checks, training, insurance, and so forth, the comments on the conservative-learning Wall Street Journal suggest that more regulations wouldn’t do any good, since Mr Dalton would have passed a background check.

Just this past weekend, 32 people were shot in Chicago, and the news media tend to brush aside deaths from gunfire these days. Maybe we’re helpless, unable to do anything about violence like this, as more and more individuals from an increasingly depressed working class, which maybe in the not-too-distant past was the middle class, go over the edge and lash out at random people with a gun they happen to have handy.

It has not been reported how this shooting affected the families of those who were killed or injured, except to say the town held a few vigils and church services. It is not clear how their funerals will be paid for, how their kids or grandkids, who may have been counting on the incomes they earned to get an education, a new house, or whatever, how the friends will pay for counseling or other services they may need as a result of nothing more than this crime.

That’s an additional tragedy of gun violence: it leaves families struggling to pay for medical care for the victims. Now, the Kalamazoo area has a terrific scholarship program, called the “Kalamazoo Promise.” An anonymous donor will pay in-state tuition for any high school student from Kalamazoo admitted to college. That might help in some cases here, but only one of the adult victims came from Kalamazoo; the other four were from nearby towns.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.