Recent incidents of gun violence in Carbondale gave city officials much to discuss this week, with all agreeing the community needs to work together to find a solution.
How exactly to do that, though, remains up in the air.
At the tail end of the April 5 meeting of the city council, leaders took time to discuss the violence on Easter Sunday that claimed the life of 41-year-old Tim Beaty and injured another, as well as the non-fatal shooting two days later at the Evolve apartments. Three men are currently in custody in connection with the Easter incident, while a fourth man, Daniel D. Holmes, is still wanted in connection with both incidents.
Councilman Adam Loos, who introduced the subject, said that even though he did not know Beaty well, his conscience demanded that he say something.
“There’s no way to overstate the magnitude of the personal loss in this instance,” Loos said. “His parents lost their son, and right now in Carbondale there’s a little boy who lost his father. This is a terrible, terrible, terrible thing. And beyond the personal tragedy, there’s a public tragedy, too. It’s always terrible when someone is murdered. Always. But when someone is murdered by stray gunfire, that has a terrorizing effect on a community.”
Loos said Carbondale has a “moral responsibility” to address the recurring violence in the community — and others agreed. Earlier in the meeting, Arbor District resident Sandy Litecky announced that a group of citizens is planning a public forum to address the issue, tearfully noting that this could be “the moment we came together and created a safer environment.” That forum has been scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 21 at the Carbondale Civic Center.
Mayor Mike Henry was firm in his assessment of the situation, saying that the Easter Sunday incident involved men not from Carbondale who were at a local bar, left, “and less than 15 minutes later, we had a young man dead. Metal detectors would have never caught these guns. They walked across the street and took them out of their car. So this is a societal problem. How we solve it I don’t really know.”
Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw expressed sympathy for Beaty and his family and also reflected on the lives of those now accused in connection with the shooting, even though no one has been charged directly in connection with Beaty’s death.
“It’s the lives of these young men who maybe made a split-second bad decision and are now going to be locked up for however many years,” Bradshaw said. “I just worry, especially because they were young men of color, I worried that as soon as those mugshots came out that would just add to the whole sense of racial tension we so often feel not just in this community but in the nation. Again, I don’t know what the solution is, but I just feel that’s been hanging over this whole incident.”
Henry shot down that assessment of the situation and took aim at members of the audience whom he saw giggling.
“Again, it’s a societal problem,” Henry said. “It doesn’t matter what color their skin is or what race they are. These young men did not make a split decision. They made a decision to get weapons out of their car and fire an uncounted number of rounds into a house with people standing out in front of it. So they need to be in prison. I’m sorry, but when they’re found guilty … they need to do the time. It’s just that simple. This was not a split decision. It was premeditated, and they knew exactly what they were doing. So all you smirky folks out there, keep that in mind as you go about your daily business. It’s not funny.”