Friday, May 06, 2005

Helaman 13:37

I read a post and all the comments over at The Baron of Deseret a few days ago regarding ambulances and fences. I have pondered many things after reading it. Today, as things sometimes happen, this random reading came back to my mind and with quite an impact.

This morning (at 7:00) I received a call from our Bishop's wife, a good friend of mine. She was asking if I knew anything about the incident that had happened down at out church. I live closer by and my #5 still goes to seminary...

The long story short is that sometime very early this morning a person down at the church called 911 and reported that a body was in the parking lot and had been obviously beaten, perhaps even unto death. Providence being what it is, there was no seminary this morning. I am still in hopes that the person who called was not an ill informed student who came and made the discovery.

My sister in law happened to go down to the church unknowingly and found the entire property surrounded by yellow tape and inquired of the officers there what was going on and what had happened. Although the details are not "on the record" yet, and a 8-10 hour investigation is still in the workings, the unofficial report is that "the older homeless gentleman who frequents our property had been beat beyond recognition sometime very late last night and possibly died from his beating."

My mind is having a hard time wrapping around this information. Our building is situated such that it is very inviting to anyone whom would like to take refuge from the elements or society. There are plenty of places to hide oneself; even while the building is in full use one can hide within 6 feet of doors and stay quietly unnoticed for days. Our facility has, on numerous occasions, had people use it as their safe place and once we even had an entire family hiding within the wind breaks and sheltered architectural structures.

When it has been necessary, dual priesthood holders would give gentle invitations for folks to "move on" or more stern requests to leave the property as soon as possible. There was an incident one YW/AP evening when a gentlemen relieved himself on one of the posts and was escorted immediately from the property. About 8 months ago a homeless women left in such a hurry that she left most of her belongings strewn around the less used entrance, but without incident. Never have we had an event that would have caused anyone alarm or fear.

Since the building was opened it has been the target of vandals, break ins and larceny. But our church is not alone, it seems every church in our valley has been a target at some time or the other - almost on a rotating basis. The bad guys are no longer afraid of God.

The neighborhood near our church building has increasingly been a haven for the homeless. They are seen in full view laying on sidewalks in front of the local grocery mart and other structures late at night, some setting up house keeping at dusk. Both the church and the grocery mart are on or close to the intersection of the two most prominent streets in our town. Did I mention that the local high school is also at this same intersection?

My point is this: The bad guys are no longer afraid of God, traffic, population, or the law enforcement that frequent this intersection. It is agreed that having the homeless camp out at the church was probably not the best solution, nor what the church would endorse. I think our unofficial stance was, "As long as they aren't "present" during church activities, let it go." I don't think the homeless were ever suspects for the break ins or vandalism, they did no harm other than un-nerving a few folks.

This old man had nothing to offer. Who would approach him and what would they gain from accosting him? My greatest fear is that the only thing he had to offer was an adrenaline rush at seeing someone's life diminish before their eyes and knowing they were the cause of another human's death.

I am mourning a man I never knew. And the mourning has quite a sting for I feel perhaps there was something better we, as a society need to be doing.

5:00 edition: Bishop's wife just called and the official statement say this elderly man was bitten and beat until dead on the property.

add to sk*rt

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