Our View: A tragedy

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Craig took a step backward this week.

One of our residents was shot in the head and many people seem unfazed -- dare we say relieved, or even satisfied -- by his tragic demise.

The term tragic is not a poetic overstatement. It's a tragedy for all of us.

It's obviously tragic for the family of the victim, who are mourning the loss of a son, father, brother and uncle. He was a Gulf War veteran. Had he died on the battlefield, the entire country would be mourning his death.

Instead, he was shot under mysterious circumstances in an apartment complex on the edge of town. A 16-year-old allegedly is involved, though as of late Friday afternoon he had not been formally charged as the shooter. At what point in a 16-year-old's life do things go so horribly wrong that the answer to a problem is gunplay?

Along with James Pogline's life, this community has lost the innocence of another youth. We've lost the peace of mind that comes with living in a place where things like this don't happen. Local law enforcement officials have lost a battle against violence.

James Pogline was well-known, perhaps even infamous, for his scrapes with local law enforcement officials. But should that change how we view a senseless loss of life? Imagine how this county might be if every individual took matters into his own hands.

Some people -- including the victim's family -- have criticized us for mentioning that he was in and out of jail before the fatal shooting. They feel we demonized the victim and didn't show enough compassion while reporting the story.

We accept the criticism, even if we don't agree with it. Reporting on a shooting is a delicate matter. It's such a rare occurrence in Craig that we felt compelled to share as much information as we could gather. In spite of our efforts, rumors are swirling, and police have remained tight-lipped about the events leading to the shooting. It could be weeks, even months, before the complete picture emerges.

In the meantime, we're left to grapple with many questions. What could have prompted such a tragedy? Could it have been prevented? What can we do to make sure something similar doesn't happen in the future? Why was a minor in possession of an illegal firearm? How are children in a small community getting access to such firearms? If they're widely available, how far are we from another tragedy involving violence and youths?

What could the implications of a community's tacit acceptance of this sort of crime entail? If we've become so callous that the taking of a human life prompts no measure of outrage or self-examination about our values as a community, then we are all victims.

Our sympathies are with the Pogline family. Any mother or father would have an ingrained sympathetic reaction, regardless of the events of this man's life before his violent death.

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