Three years ago I lost a young friend in a senseless gun accident. Last night, another young man I have known for years was gunned down without rhyme or reason. Again, I am in a state of shock that this could happen to a young man I have known. Again, I am speechless at the tragic loss of a good life - he was an eagle scout, a senior in high school, ready to enter the military. He was a good kid. Again, I am reading the facebook messages left on his wall - sorrow, disbelief, anger, and healing - all kids who have to mourn the loss of a peer. This shouldn't be.
Rickey King was a kid at Gordon Parks elementary when I met him. He was part of a group of gentlemen being mentored by my friend airick west. I accompanied the group to the symphony, to the art museum, out for frisbee, and on Sunday mornings for pancakes at my house. He was a funny guy and loved, loved, loved his cars. He particularly liked my Acura 6 speed RX-S. I took him to the auto show one year and we ogled the cars. He was quite sure he would get a Mazeratti one day.
Most recently he had decided to join the military after graduating from Southwest high school. He figured he would be safer there than on the streets of KC. The irony is draining my heart.
I realize young men die on the streets, but I always wanted to believe they were hanging with a dangerous crowd, making bad choices, or some such. I know there are innocent kids killed all the time who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently, that's what befell Rickey. Wrong place. Wrong time.
So now I am left to try to make sense of this, again. I couldn't make sense of it the first time it happened. I can't make sense of it now. I hope I never have to face this kind of tragedy again, but I am not naive enough to think that it might be me who ends up like Rickey. He was killed on Prospect at 10:15 at night on Saturday. He wasn't at a club, he didn't deal drugs. He wasn't in a gang. He didn't hang with the wrong crowd. I have no idea how this happened to him. In time, the story will unfold. The person he was with was shot but is still alive. He lived with his grandmother for many years. She protected him. I can only imagine her grief. He has a family of mom and brothers and sisters, cousins, and friends. I am sorry for their loss as well as mine.
We don't need a vigil. We don't need a speech. We need to somehow make the streets safe so decent kids like Rickey can live long enough to grow up and live their life. I don't have a solution. I don't have an answer. I wish I did. I wish someone did.