Every now and then you hear on the news or read in the paper about senseless shootings in sleepy little towns across the country – far away from your own safe community. You wonder what is wrong with the world and what possesses someone to do such unspeakable things! And you never believe in your wildest dreams that it can happen in your own back yard….. Well, it happened in our back yard on Sunday – March 29th – a gunman entered a nursing home in Carthage, NC and went on a shooting rampage killing 8 and wounding several others.
Carthage is a very small community just a stone’s throw up the road from Sanford. I just passed through Carthage on Friday on my way to an appt in Pinehurst. I mentioned Carthage in my post dated March 22nd (the Sunday before the shootings) – a friend and I stopped at the little airport in Carthage on our way to the movies in Aberdeen. I have visited the wonderful antique shops there several times over the years. It is a lovely little community – quiet, peaceful, old world small town feel. Now, they will forever be associated with a horrible act of violence.
Any mass shootings of this nature are unbelievably horrendous – all locations selected by the warped minds of the individuals going on the killing spree are senseless and claim the lives of innocent victims. But, if there can be a location that seems more despicable than the others we’ve read about, it is a nursing home!!! The victims in this case were bedridden and in wheel chairs – in their 70s, 80s, and even their 90s – unable to even attempt to protect or shield themselves from their attacker. One woman was 98 years old – I don’t know her story, but I can only imagine, knowing the events that have occurred over her lifetime, that she has likely survived many a hardship over the course of nearly a century. And, now, to end her life with such violence… What kind of coward – what kind of animal does something like that?
Safety, security, comfort – those are the things you think of when you picture a small town and what you expect when you entrust your loved ones to an elder care facility or your children to their school or when you attend your local church. How can we ever feel safe, secure, and comfortable ANYWHERE when there are people in this world who, for whatever reason, just decide to walk into our comfort zones and open fire???!!!
The other side of this story is the picture of a hero! Justin Garner – the only officer on duty in Carthage on Sunday morning. He answered the call and didn’t hesitate to take charge of the situation by taking down the gunman with a single shot to the chest while being wounded, himself! He surely saved many other lives that day! Waiting for back up was probably the wiser thing to do, but he did what he felt was right and thank God he did! If anything can ever put the words “safe, secure, comfortable” back in our hearts, it is knowing that there are people like Officer Garner out there!
I don’t know any of the victims in this case and I don’t believe I know any of their family members…..but it still touched me, as I’m sure it did many others in the communities surrounding Carthage. After all – it happened in our back yard!
God bless the victims and their families and thank you, Officer Garner, for stopping it from being an even worse situation than it already was!!!