Excuse me, are you listening? 12-13
Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tragedy Strikes:  Fireworks, Murder, Depression and Suicide
Dear Readers,
The Fourth of July is always going to be bittersweet for me.  I love the celebrations, barbecues and picnics.  I love marching in the Lansing Fourth of July parade with The New Citizens Press Community Action Network's (TNCP CAN's) Stop the Violence group.  This year we had almost 80 people marching with us this year.  It is always so overwhelming especially when you turn the corner on Michigan and Allegan chanting "keep the peace, stop the violence".    We appreciate all of the families that were involved this year, we will be on Allegan Street next year in the parking lot behind the Hall of Justice meeting at 10 a.m. for the 11:00 a.m. march.  We also made a banner this year.  I wish we had photos of all of those who are no longer here because of violence.
The fireworks at night are my favorite, not the sounds that accompany them though.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I question if I am hearing gunshots.  When did life in America get so dangerous?  Holidays always dictate the need for families to meet for celebrations or participate in parades not to fear being shot or injured. 
In 2012, at the City of Lansing's Fourth of July celebration, 34-year-old Michelle Packard was one of thousands at Lansing's Adado Riverfront Park.    Unfortunately, she was shot and killed around 9:30 p.m.  Her family thought that she had a seizure.   When she arrived at the hospital they realized she had been shot. She was finishing her Ph.D. in Bio-Systems Engineering at Michigan State University.  She was sponsored by the Department of Defense's  Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories.  
Packard's fiance John-Wesley Thomas and his daughter were there when it happened. They were in the process of building a life together, when in a split second their lives changed.
A year later, the case is still not solved.  There were no witnesses.  It shows how quickly life changes and what is supposed to be a happy occasion turned into a tragedy.  
We all have bad days, weeks or months.  Death through violence is overwhelming for many.  Sometimes things get you down but they do.  Thomas became very despondent after the death of his fiance.  At 29-years-old, Thomas felt he could no longer handle living and committed suicide earlier this year.  
In two consecutive editions, I wrote about a death as a result of a murder.  The Bernita White murder case in 2001 was just as tragic.  As noted in the article, when Ms. White's mother, 67-year-old Barbara Sims was told that her daughter was murdered, she had a heart attack and died the same day as her daughter.   When are people going to realize that the action of violence causes a reaction that is usually very negative.
They believe that it was a celebratory shot and not deliberate.  There are so many other cases that are deliberate.  At some point too much anger and aggression causes others to strike out.  Striking out usually makes people become reckless and causing trouble in the long run does not solve problems.
This year the City of Lansing’s July 4th celebration at Adado Riverfront Park and the City’s parade in downtown this year was very peaceful and there were only  a few minor violations.  The Lansing Police Department responded to 49 total firework complaints after 12:00 a.m. last night and issued five misdemeanor citations for City Ordinance violations. The fireworks display at Riverfront Park was well-attended and the crowd was well-behaved, with very low numbers of arrests and citations.
In reference to the felonious assault, officers were patrolling the 500 block of E. Saginaw on July 4, 2013 at 7:45 p.m. when they observed a female driver attempting to strike a male with her vehicle. The officers immediately contacted the driver and noted that the vehicle did not contact the male victim, a 44-year-old Holt male. Officers arrested the driver, a 50-year-old Lansing female for felonious assault. No one was injured during this incident and the accused is currently in custody at the Lansing Detention Center.  
On July 5, 2013 at 2:05 a.m. officers responded to the 900 block of Daleford on report of a shooting. A 39-year-old Lansing male reported that a known accused fired one round from a shot gun at his vehicle while he was driving in the neighborhood. The victim was not struck but the vehicle in questioned sustained some damage from the shotgun shell. The accused is currently not in custody and detectives are following up with their investigation.
It seems to me that we cannot afford to lose any police officers nor can we take what they do for granted.  We are citizens need to be more mindful.  I am not sure how we avoid losing our community to the destruction in the streets.
When crimes occur we want some one to blame or someone to hold accountable .  When you look at both of the above situations, they could have both been homicides if the circumstances would have been slightly different.  You have to ask yourself, how does one avoid violence?  Where does it start?  Who is responsible?  How do we stop the pain from occurring?  How do we get people to care about those around them?  Any ideas?
Love people,
Rina Risper
This was printed in the July 14, 2013 - July 27, 2013 Edition

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