Sometimes crime seems a bit easier to understand when it happens between people who know each other.
A disgruntled former employee lashes out at a boss. A spouse shoots a cheating husband or wife. Two friends get in a fight over money and the argument ends in bloodshed.
In these cases, there's at least a motive, a reason that the human mind can wrap itself around.
More difficult to understand are random criminal acts. A person – like Brandi Todd, the young mother in Stephenville who was stabbed in the back as she watched her children play in a park and now is paralyzed – is in the wrong place at the wrong time or is singled out by chance. It's like a roulette wheel spins and your number comes up. The motive often is unclear. It's hard for the human mind sometimes to accept that someone will try to hurt you for no apparent reason.
And so it was last week when a woman went on a routine mission to buy groceries at Brookshire's and found herself in the parking lot staring at a gun wielded by a man who tried to abduct her. She'd never seen him before, she said when I spoke with her. Law enforcement officers don't know the exact motive. The victim said she doesn't know why he singled her out. She keeps asking herself, “Why me?”
The woman left the Metroplex to escape crime, traffic and stress. She thought she was safe here, she said. Now she is afraid. Although she wasn't hurt, something valuable has been violated – her sense of security.
So many of us moved to Glen Rose for similar reasons. I know many people who don't lock their doors or their cars or leave cash in their businesses at night. The it-can't-happen-here mentality takes over and we drop our guard. It's a shock to hear that it CAN happen here. But, as Somervell County Chief Deputy Derrell McCravey said, crimes such as the attempted abduction can happen “anywhere, anytime and any day.”
The victim understandably was shaken up by the experience. When we talked, she asked that the newspaper not reveal her name. Although it's public record and her name was in the sheriff's offense report, I readily agreed. She's afraid the man arrested for the crime, Alan Elton Light – could get out of jail on bond. He's still behind bars in the Somervell County Jail.
I told her my story of being a victim of aggravated robbery. I hate the term “victim” because it sounds so helpless. But that's what I was when I was lying facing down on the bed in my home in Fort Worth in 1991, my hands tied behind my back and a gun pointed at my head. I was completely helpless.
The robbers were a teenage girl and a young man. I opened my door to her and didn't see him until it was too late. After they tied me up with my husband's bathrobe belt, they ransacked my house, taking cameras, electronics, jewelry, anything they could hock for money. They even took my wedding ring.
I desperately wanted to get out of my house that had become a prison and possibly a deathtrap. I told the robbers that I had money in the bank and they should take me to an ATM nearby. Then I planned to scream, fight, feign a heart attack, whatever I had to do to get free. But they saw through my plan.
“We're not going to fall for that,” the guy said.
After the robbers had been there for what seemed like an eternity, but was only about half an hour, they began discussing what to do with me.
“She's just going to call the law,” I overheard the guy say.
I told the couple I was a reporter and if they hurt me, there would be hell to pay. I told them my husband was going to be home at any moment. I told them anything I could think of to keep them from killing me. I told them if they were afraid I was going to call the police, then they should unplug the phones and take them with them.
They did. Then they loaded up everything in my car. I was never so happy as to hear that front door close and the robbers drive away.
Oh, and they forgot one phone. It was one of the old-timey ones wired into the wall. I used it to call police after I jumped off the bed and got my hands untied.
I didn't get any of my stuff back except the car. Police found it the next day, abandoned in an apartment complex parking lot. They dusted for fingerprints, but didn't find any. The guy had been wearing gloves. He was a pro, police said, and likely had done this before.
“Why me?” I asked. They didn't know.
I was lucky. I wasn't hurt. But I, too, was violated. There is something about having a gun pointed at you that you never forget. That moment becomes frozen in memory.
But, as I told the victim of last week's crime, the positive thing to take away from her ordeal is that she reacted very, very well. She did not allow herself to be taken. She got herself out of a bad situation. She was a victim for a while, but she then she refused to be helpless. She fought for her life and won.
We should all take her brave example to heart. And we can all make ourselves a little safer by not ever taking our safety for granted – even in a small town.