ATLANTA – A freshman at Fort Valley State University was stabbed to death after he came to the aid of some female students who were being harassed and groped by a man outside the school cafeteria, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent said Wednesday.
When someone is engaging in socially unacceptable behavior, it’s hard to tell how far they’re willing to take it. Unless you passed that Mind Reading 101 class with flying colors, you have no way of knowing.
And pulling your gun on someone who is ‘harassing and groping’ might not work out too well, either. This kind of situation is so touchy and nebulous that there’s not much upside and a great deal of downside.
Self-inflicted gunshot wounds and unintentional spouse/child/sibling shootings happen much more often than people think. So do Negative Outcomes from interventions.
If you insist on thinking intervening is a good idea, be smart about it. Years ago, I heard a struggle and shouting going on in the hallway of the apartment building I lived in. Even 25 years ago, I kept a large can of unpleasant chemical called Phaser by my front door. It was a can of CS gas the size of a small fire extinguisher. My plan was to open the door and hose everyone outside down with gas because I had no way of knowing who was whom and what was going on. When I opened the door, it turned out to be two Atlanta police officers trying to get the bracelets on some low-life. So I let them finish the job, without hosing them down, and then went back to my book.
Verbalization is for pre-fight situations. Once a struggle has begun, the time for talking is over. I didn’t plan to say anything to whomever was in the hall, I was just going to let them have it. But I did have enough decision-making sense to abort my plan when I saw who was involved. Subject identification is always necessary.
Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.
I’m not a particularly religious man but there’s a lot of wisdom in that saying. It’s been true for thousands of years and probably will be for thousands more.
Campus Police Chief Kenneth Morgan (left) and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge J.T. Ricketson at a May 4, 2016 press conference about the murder.