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June 15, 2017

Another Civil War?

Harry M. Covert

What a wakeup call. When the blaring news is close to home, there's no lollygagging waiting for the coffee. This time the "breaking news" was real stuff.


The news: a nut case with an assault rifle was shooting up a baseball field in Alexandria's quaint community Del Ray. Possibly no other community is quite so active and involved in a major city that Del Ray. The people are terrific and the shops "up and down the avenue" provide a real homey and happy atmosphere.


The baseball field next to the YMCA is nice and always busy. Yesterday morning, Wednesday, all eyes and ears were focused on the practice of the Congressional Republicans baseball team.


The players had been taking batting and infield practice around 6:30 in the morning. Many players arrived between 5:30 and 6. Their Democratic opponents were elsewhere preparing for tonight's charity game, hard ball baseball, which will go on at the Washington Nationals Park.


Peaceful Del Ray was thrown into chaos about 7 a.m. The rat-a-tat-tat exploded. Not firecrackers, but real bullets. Within moments first responders from Alexandria (VA) police, sheriff and fire agencies were on the scene.


Fortunately two Capitol Police officers were there and, even though they were wounded, they shot the shooter, a 66-year-old disgruntled Belleville, Illinois, man. He died later in the morning from the gunfight.


When he discovered it was a Republican Congressional team. He aimed his highly charged automatic rifle and shot Rep. Steve Scalise (LA), GOP House whip. Because of his position the two Capitol Policemen were his security detail. They are heroes, good shots, too.


Congressman Scalise was shot in the hip. First news reports said he took a bullet to the head. He is in serious condition.


A congressional aide and lobbyist were shot, too. They are recovering along with the police officers.


My residence was Alexandria for 25 years. I can write that the police, sheriff and fire departments are terrific. Responding within three minutes is incredible. They did the job as they are trained and prepared.


Because the targets were federal officials, the probe will be led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with local and state agencies.


News agencies did a good job, too. Del Ray and Alexandria are not strangers to government leaders and workers, and reporters are always up and down the streets.


The point of this dialogue is that such a startling event could well hit any community in these troubling days with copycats. Let's hope not. Police agencies are, thankfully, prepared.


The political climate has changed dramatically "in the land of the free and home of the brave." It's no longer witty or humorous to be careless in our discussions and disagreements.


The problem today is not gun violence but "heart trouble." The perspective must not be killing opponents and displaying the beheadings of public figures and other atrocious actions.


The ugliness around the country has reached bitterness and must be halted. Does the nation need another War Between The States? Absolutely not. The late Illinois shooter was not a patriot.


Thankfully Capitol Police officers didn't hesitate, put themselves in harm's way and did their duty. It could have been more devastating had they not.


Terrorism by any other name is still terrorism.


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