Off the Press

September 25, 2012

By Kathleen R. Merrill

What do criminals think before they act?

Kathleen Merrill
Press managing editor

Thoughts of gunman Ronald Ficker have roamed around in my head since he walked through downtown Issaquah, randomly shooting at people before getting into a gunfight with police on Sept. 24, 2011.

The incident ended with him being shot to death. And I haven’t been able to get that out of my head.

While he was driving around our fair city that morning, thinking about God knows what, I was spending time outside with my German shepherd, and then heading out for a cruise in my car on a sunny day. While he was dying on an elementary school campus, I was chatting with a friend while shopping.

I can’t get that out of my head either.

For some time that morning he drove around our city, even running out of gas and having contact with a police officer on Interstate 90, before he ran out of gas yet again downtown.

It was a beautiful fall day and people were everywhere. I can’t help but think that he never intended to kill anyone or he would have. He had more than 900 rounds of ammunition on him when he died.

I’ll never forget the call I got from a friend saying a gunman was on the loose not far from where I live. I’ll never forget the drive back to my city. I’ll never forget the fear I felt when I didn’t quite know what was going on or where the gunman was.

What bothers me is that here we are living our lives while some people are plotting against others.

Take that guy who walked into “The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire, killing 12 and wounding 58 in Colorado. For months I had waited to see the movie, and friends and I talked excitedly about going. That’s what those people were doing, too, before their lives were disrupted or ended — making plans to go to a movie they were eagerly awaiting.

Or take a recent rash of burglaries. It makes me angry that people are sitting outside people’s houses waiting to break in and steal things while the homeowners or renters are off working hard to make a living. Why can’t everyone make their own way instead of taking it from other people?

Or take whoever put that threat on the Internet last week about going into the commons at Skyline High School and opening fire, only stopping when he or she was dead. Teens who contacted me that night were genuinely scared. So were their parents. They spent the evening wondering whether they should go to school the next day before administrators called it off. Some slept less soundly than usual or not at all.

People are messing with other people’s lives, and it’s getting worse. Why?

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