A jarring, bloody symptom

A pedestrian’s murder, allegedly by a 13-year-old, should haunt

Mable Florence Jordan’s murder didn’t make the front page. She had heated competition for our attention this news cycle.

 

But even amid the same week that 58 concert-goers were gunned down in Las Vegas, the 61-year-old Ms. Jordan’s cold-blooded killing in the dark of night on an Augusta street just after midnight Thursday shocks the conscience and rattles the soul.

The revulsion is only made deeper by the fact that her alleged killer is a 13-year-old who was somehow allowed to roam the streets in the wee hours and who somehow thought she was worth robbing – and who somehow only reached the precipice of puberty with homicide already in the heart.

“The teen ruthlessly shot the ... woman twice in the chest with a .22-caliber handgun,” one account reads. “He then grabbed her small white purse from her shoulder while she lay dying on the ground, according to an arrest warrant. Authorities say he walked 20 yards away and then rummaged through her purse, removing $40 cash and then dropping the purse.”

This isn’t just a murder. This is a symptom. A bloody, jarring, reverberating symptom of something very wrong in society.

Mable Jordan had an absolute and inviolable right to life. And society has a collective obligation to cherish and protect life. May heaven forgive us for failing to do so.

And whatever prudence dictates, one does not deserve the death penalty for being in what some would think is an imprudent time and place. However mean the streets, they are not the steppes, where one might reasonably expect to be put upon by a four-legged predator.

The two-legged kind is no less vicious, and arguably more so – for they kill for much less reason.

If it sounds as if we are stunned, outraged and horrified, we are. The whole of this community ought to be. Even more so than if the fallen had been one of the area’s top officials or a hotshot of high society, for our duty is greater with the Mable Jordans of the world who make their way in obscurity and often on foot. We simply must be better stewards of the most vulnerable among us.

And what of the young suspected killer, whose name – Zitedrick Shelley – was thankfully released by authorities, as he faces the same charges an adult would? Where do such predators come from?

As this one’s adult criminal charges demonstrate, juvenile delinquency sure ain’t what it used to be. We need to stop treating violent youths as “children.”

More importantly, we need to have some wide-ranging, perhaps indelicate, conversations about what conditions create such predation and how to change those conditions.

The Chronicle has reported that Shelley, even at 13, already has a juvenile record that includes charges of robbing two other women – one of whom was pregnant and was maced by Shelley. Others have posted a photo of an alleged 9-year-old Shelley posing with a high-powered rifle in a social media photo.

No one is safe with predators on the loose. And society won’t be safe – and won’t be doing its job – until it stops producing them

 

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