Shots fired

Apr 16, 2020 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

Trouble came to the streets of Riverton again on Wednesday. A man holed-up inside a house in a quite neighborhood fired a gun 17 times at law-enforcement officers.

After hours of armed standoff, a shot from an officer ended the confrontation. The man was taken away in an ambulance, alive but gravely wounded.

The outsiders will have a field day with this. They will note, accurately but superficially - that this incident marks the third time little over a year that someone in Riverton was shot by law enforcement.

There's no denying the simple arithmetic and timeline of those events. But each was so different from the others that a casual reference to a headline in trying to characterize our community would be not just inaccurate, but irresponsible.

Let's all resist that temptation, and discourage it in others.

That disclaimer cannot reduce the seriousness of these three situations. Nothing can. What must be done now is a thorough examination as possible into what happened Thursday, and why.

Not everything can be explained or solved. But reliable conclusions that can be reached ought to be shared with the public for purposes of both clarity and confidence.

Any examination of this incident will, unavoidably, take place in today's era of instant online communication in which gossip, rumors, speculation, uninformed opinion and outright lies do battle with responsible, verified, attributed, evidence-based observation and inquiry.

The Ranger promises to trade in the latter categories, not the former.

Added to the information equation with Wednesday's incident is the fact that the community in recent weeks has been turned upside down by fears of the coronavirus.

Investigators surely will examine whether the pressures of that ongoing crisis may, in some way, have contributed to the behavior of the man who was shot, and who had shot at others beforehand.

As is standard procedure, outside investigators already are at work on the case. They will try, first and foremost, to establish exactly what happened in the facts-and-figures sense.

In so doing, perhaps they will learn more that can be shared with the rest of us about why this frightening incident happened -- both on the street and in the house -- and what, if anything, can be done to keep it from happening again.

Poetry month

During National Poetry month, the Academy of American Poets has invited suggestions for a collection of poems suitable to our nation's "stay at home" status during the coronavirus pandemic.

This one is by Jane Kenyon, half of a husband-wife poetry pairing in New England. She died in her 40s of leukemia and worte this poem, "Let Evening Come," in 1990. That was five years before she lost her life to the disease, but this gentle, comforting poem suggests that she knew what was coming.

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon

shine through chinks in the barn, moving

up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing

as a woman takes up her needles

and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned

in long grass. Let the stars appear

and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.

Let the wind die down. Let the shed

go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop

in the oats, to air in the lung

let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't

be afraid. God does not leave us

comfortless, so let evening come.

(Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

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