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 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 want 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 one’s 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 at 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.