Double Homicide, Suicide in Scranton, PA

Perhaps you have seen the surveillance video of a double
murder that has been making its way around social media. The video shows a
verbal confrontation between neighbors in the middle of the street. It
culminates with one neighbor shooting the other neighbor and his wife several
times. The two victims would die on the scene, and as police approached the
shooters home, he cowardly killed himself.

But lest we look at the video, throw up our hands saying
‘people are just crazy,’ it would serve us well to learn from this tragic
incident. And yes, there is a huge lesson to be taken from this incident.

While there are certainly incidents where the victim just
happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, this is not one of them.
So first, let’s back up to the events that occurred before the shooting. Let’s
start before the video even began.

There are some reports that the neighbors had a history of
bad blood between them. We don’t know what caused these neighbors to hate one
another. But let’s even submit that whatever the grievances were, that they
were completely legitimate and rational. The victims and the neighbor could not
or did not attempt to live in peace with their neighbor. It is a simple concept
that we all would do good to put into practice.

If your mind read the last point and took it as us
recommending that you become passive and let people harm you, you, and your
family, you need to heed the message contained in the tragic incident captured
in the video. Peaceably living doesn’t mean you give up your right to defend
yourself. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk
to your neighbor about a problem you have with them. It means is that whenever
possible, you should try to do it in a reasonable and self-controlled manner.

Sadly, no one in this video acted reasonably or exercised
any self-control. If these two groups of adults were two of your children, you
likely would have intervened and put an end to their foolish behavior.

News reports stated that what instigated the incident on
that day was the husband and wife shoveling snow from their property onto his.
In no way does this behavior warrant execution, but it certainly is petulant
and unnecessary. Based on the shooter’s words, it isn’t likely why he shot
them, but no doubt stoked the fire.

Both groups yell obscenities and make verbal threats of
physical harm against each other. If you wanted a ‘how-to’ lesson on escalating
a problem into a bigger one, this video is all you need. Hopefully, by the time
you left high school, the novelty of curse words and name-calling wore off.
Maturity facilitates a desire to de-escalate rather than proving who is tougher.

And this is a tactical consideration for every concealed
carrier watching this video. Think of why you carry a firearm. It is to protect
life right? We are defensive shooters as is required by law as well as a basic
moral principle. This means the protection of our lives as well as our loved
ones. The sad thing is in order to be the bigger man, the husband failed to
fulfill this role as a husband and protect his wife. To be fair, she engaged in
name-calling and bad-behavior as well. However, we must become extra vigilant
and sober in our decisions with our loved ones present. What we do or don’t do
has a direct impact on their chance of surviving.

We mentioned pre-assault indicators earlier. These are cues
that someone is about to commit violence. Did notice what happened when the
shooter came out of his house with the handgun? He walked down the driveway
pointing the gun at the husband and wife. Pretty hard to miss that cue right?
Well, ego and anger cloud our judgment and it happened in this case. Both the
husband and wife actually walked toward the shooter and dared him to shoot them!

Once the husband was shot, he ran away leaving his wife
defenseless in the middle of the road. For all the idiotic things the people
yelled at each other, at that moment it has become deadly serious. Are you as a
concealed carrier prepared to defend yourself if your attacker gets the first
hits? Are you willing to fight to the death for your life or the life of your
loved ones? Compliance is sometimes the answer, in this incident, it was
obvious it wasn’t going to work. Would this have ended differently? Who knows,
but our mindset should not be to give up.

We see an indication of extreme violence by the fact that
the shooter took several point-blank shots on both victims. This shows a
propensity for a level of violence that may shock those with a moral conscience.
Not only did he shoot both neighbors at point-blank range, but because they
were still alive, and he presumably was out of ammunition, he retrieved a long
gun from his home and re-engaged both neighbors at near contact distance again.

Perhaps the most chilling part of the video is what the
shooter says as he shoots the woman in the head with a rifle at a distance of
inches. We can hear him say “you should have kept your f*&ing mouth
shut!” Two people were murdered, and another one was killed by his own
hand. Why? Escalation of words and threats. No robbery, no gang shooting, not
even a mistake of fact. Nope, just words.

We have the right to say what we want, even if those words
offend or are a minority view. But don’t mistake the right to free speech with
the necessity…no obligation to act responsibly. Even more so if you are
carrying a firearm. Those who have been in combat, been a victim of violent
crime, or seen the evils of man rarely want to engage in needless violence. For
when we truly experience violence, we seek all other options before resorting to it.

So please seek to live peaceably with others whenever
possible. Always attempt to de-escalate volatile situations if at all possible.
Yes, there is a time and place for violence. When it becomes necessary we hope
you have trained, know your abilities and respond appropriately with the will to survive.

But whatever you do, don’t seek conflict. There are too many
people who are willing to take you up on your offer.