On August 28th, a 10 year-old boy shot his 42 year-old father in Belen, a small, quiet town that lies just to the south of Albuquerque, NM. The man took one bullet to the head from a rifle around dinner time.
Initially the speculation was that the young boy had been playing with the rifle and it went off accidentally.
By August 29th, however, the police announced that it was a premeditated murder and they were charging the boy (although specifically what charge was unclear). What they were going to do with him was another matter. As one cop said, "Where do we put him, with the teenagers in juvenile detention?" Who ever thought of holding cells for pre-k and elementary school killers, much less long-term facilities?
Within minutes of the announcement, the media on all three Albuquerque stations had begun interviewing all the usual locals: teachers, cops, neighbors.
And they all gave the usual responses:
"What I saw"he was a wonderful dad, and those kids were really respectful with their dad," one neighbor, who lives across the street from the victim, stated. "I mean, come on, for a man to raise three children on his own, you know, it says it all right there."
"He seemed like such a nice little boy."
"He seemed like such a good father."
"I never heard nothing from them bad before."
Finally, it started to come out that the child protection agencies in the area had been called to investigate the family at least 4 times over the last few years. The parents were divorced and the mother was living on her own in Rio Rancho, a suburban sprawl about 45 minutes north of the children. No one was saying anything further but the confusion and the questions kept flying. What would make a 10 year-old boy pick up a rifle and shoot his own father in the head in front of his two younger siblings?
In a street sweep of interviews by giddy reporters, one boy who piped up before they could turn their microphones away explained it this way:
"He had no friends... Maybe that's why."
I guess it takes a 10 year-old to even begin to understand.
This is not the first time a child has killed a parent or the first time lawyers, guns and money made it impossible to really understand what destroyed a young life.