Some people called Thursday to tell us they didn’t like the front page photograph of a smiling 17-year-old killer.
We didn’t like it either.
That’s why we placed it there — to grab your attention.
We have teens in our city who are gunning down people, smiling about it in court, and showing no remorse for their actions. Often the shootings are over drugs, but not always. Teens are shooting each other because someone stepped on their shoes or because they didn’t like the way someone looked at them. They’ll be dumb and pull the trigger to take someone’s smartphone.
Sadly, these aren’t isolated incidents.
Lima has an escalating problem with juvenile crime that needs to be thwarted some way, some how. It’s only a matter of time until an innocent person is killed or injured by a stray bullet.
It’s easy to say “just lock up the bad guys … throw ’em in the slammer.” Certainly that’s deserving. And yes, our police and courts need to get even tougher on crime. But don’t be fooled into thinking jail time is a deterrent? No way. While it may get some of the thugs off the street for a while — obviously a good thing — the Catch-22 is these teens wear prison time as a badge of honor, a right of passage. It’s like earning a college scholarship to become better criminals.
And don’t get the idea this is a “black problem.” Juvenile crime doesn’t have any racial boundaries. It’s full of kids from all races who have grown up not knowing right from wrong, or even caring to know. In too many cases they were children born of parents who were children themselves. These teens cannot tell you where to find a Bible or their daddy, but they can direct you to gun or a high time with your drug of choice.
Babies aren’t born bad; it’s a learned trait. They grow up becoming products of their environment. Somehow we need to reach these teens at a younger age; be a role model, provide a positive addiction. It’s that, or we end up with an Albert McDowell and his smiling face on Page 1.
Last week McDowell pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with a gun for killing another teenager a year ago at a carryout on Kibby Street. He was 16 at the time and remains a chief suspect in another murder, the killing of Kylil Florence in January 2015, but he has not been charged in that slaying.
McDowell is a thug and proud of it.
He’s the poster child of the juvenile crime problem that haunts this city.
Remember his face. That smile.
And know this is what our police and justice system is dealing with on a day to day basis.
ROSES AND THORNS: It’s about time a strawberry patch is carved out of the rose garden.
Rose: To Jerry Suter of Suter Produce Inc., Pandora. The man knows his strawberries, as evident by the people lining up to buy them at his red barns Saturday.
Rose: To Mark Miller, whose volunteered at St. Rita’s Medical Center for 40 years.
Rose: To Greg Sowinski, who will be ending a 21-year standout career at The Lima News when he begins a new position at Children Services in June.
Thorn: The Allen County Fair Board puts an end to horse shoes being played at the fair.
Thorn: Allen County fell from 36th to 46th in the Ohio county health report in 2017, according to Activate Allen County.
PARTING SHOT: “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” — John F. Kennedy, who would have turned 100 Monday.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.