"Jasper Spires boarded the Red Line Metro train at Rhode Island Avenue in Washington shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday, joining passengers headed to Fourth of July festivities, among them the Foo Fighters concert at RFK Stadium.
As the train rumbled toward its next stop, at NoMa-Gallaudet, a three-minute ride, police said, the 18-year-old Spires — who may have been high on synthetic drugs — tried to grab a cellphone tucked into the waistband of a Trumbull, Conn., native headed to a gathering with friends.
The two struggled, police said, and the terror began.
Police and a witness interviewed said passengers trapped in the moving train huddled at both ends of the car and watched in horror as Spires punched Kevin Joseph Sutherland, 24, until he fell to the floor, then stabbed him until he was dead. Court documents say Sutherland, a former intern for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut and a recent American University graduate, was cut or stabbed 30 or 40 times, in the chest, abdomen, back, side and arms. Police said the assailant then threw the victim's cellphone and returned to stomp on Sutherland's body." (Hartford Courant)
Almost two weeks ago "terrified" passengers on a Washington D.C. subway watched horror unfold. As Jasper Spies punched, stabbed, kicked and murdered Kevin Joseph Sutherland, they "huddled at both ends" of the moving train.
Almost immediately after the story broke, social media and newspaper comment threads lit up. Keyboard commandos were appalled not one or more persons intervened to assist Mr. Sutherland. The meme, "What would you do," became popular.
There were arguments and debates over what people would, should, and could do. Everything from nothing to pulling out their perfectly legal concealed carry piece and start blasting. One person claimed he or she would shout at the offender. Maybe that works for bears.
What would you do? Seriously. What would you do if a horrific crime unfolded before your very eyes.
Would you be oh so cool and shoot a video with your phone to share on social media?
Would you intervene, attacking the criminal?
Would you huddle in a corner in fear?
Would you just sit with your face plastered to your phone, texting, sexting, tweeting, or amusing your self with a game or video?
Before you answer, you should think, if that is possible. The wrong answer is what you would or should do.
The correct answer is, what could you do?
Could you make a snap decision to act on behalf of a fellow human being? Could you risk life and limb for another? Could you seriously harm or kill another human being because it is the "right thing to do"? Could you risk the chance of injuring or killing innocent people in your quest to be a hero in your own mind? More importantly, could you prevail?
Could you shrink yourself in hope you will not be next?
It is so easy being a Monday morning quarterback, especially if you never were in a violent confrontation or trained to handle violent confrontations. Could your brain process the information fast enough to get your body to react in a prevailing manner? Or, could your brain lock up causing you to go into a fetal position whimpering like a weenie?
Forget your martial arts madness or being a paper target double tapper. There is a big difference between an active armed violent person and dancing with the sensei or shooting paper people.
Could you, the individual arm chair hero, overcome an armed violent criminal and prevail. Prevailing is winning. Winning is everything. Losing is being severely injured or killed. Or, could you, the simpering milquetoast, stay unseen, unheard, and alive?
Could you live with the consequences of your action or inaction?
Having been in more violent confrontations than I can count or remember during my previous career, on and off duty, I can say with complete authority, I do not know what I would do if I witnessed a person being violently victimized.
I know what I am capable of doing and my limitations. I know just about anything I can get my hands on is a defensive, offensive, and potentially lethal weapon. My brain can still quickly calculate the time space continuum and the risk to my life.
I have no qualms about inflicting extreme or lethal violence upon people who deserve it. I can live with the consequences. I would probably have a nice meal with a few drinks and sleep like a baby afterwards.
Knowing what I could do based on training and experience, would I do something? I do not know.
Self survival is the first law of nature. If I cannot prevail (win) and stay alive or walk away without a catastrophic injury, what is the point? I do not have a suicide wish nor do I want to injure an innocent bystander. Calculating risk is part of the decision process.
There is an old aviation adage. "There are old pilots and bold pilots. There are no old bold pilots."
It is easy to be an arm chair hero in your own mind. It is easier to be a coward or blissfully unaware and self absorbed in your phone.
It is better to be intelligent. Take in all the factors. Make a decision based on your capabilities and risk assessment versus your wild imagination, or lack thereof. If you have the training and experience, the decision can be made in a split second.
Social media and comment sections are full of people who woulda, shoulda, coulda. They sit safely behind their screens in their underwear spewing uninformed courageous gasbaggery about what they would or would not do. If confronted with a genuine violent situation, most would need to change their underwear. The concealed carry braggarts would either be shot with their own gun or have to buy new one after they were disarmed by a real criminal.
Real live crime is not the movies. It is not YouTube instructional videos showing how to defend yourself or others. It is not bouncing on a mat in a dojo or shooting at paper targets.
Real live crime is tough. It is violent. It is bloody. It is dangerous.
Like John Wayne said in the movie, "Life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid."
Don't be stupid.
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