6-Year-Old Jeremy Mardis Should Not Be “Collateral Damage”

None of us really need a reminder that everything is terrible, but today’s breaking news makes it impossible to ignore. As you may have heard, earlier today, a male student at the University of California at Merced stabbed five people outside a classroom before being killed by police. It’s unclear what motivated the attacks, but luckily all five of the victims survived and are reportedly conscious.

Meanwhile, as I’m writing this post, there’s an active shooter situation in San Diego, California’s Banker Hill neighborhood, which just so happens to be very close to where I grew up. The shooter, also male, is apparently armed with a long-range rifle and has been barricaded inside of an apartment complex since about 9 a.m. PST, with a SWAT team surrounding the building and patrolling the neighborhood. Thus far, no injuries have been reported. The San Diego International Airport, which is less than a mile away, is still permitting outbound flights but is diverting inbound flights for the time being.

God only knows what motivated the two men above to turn violent — there are few details available and the latter suspect has yet to be apprehended. I certainly pray these incidents are resolved with no innocent lives lost. But the third news story that caught my eye today, which isn’t grabbing as much attention, does involve the death of an innocent person: six-year-old Jeremy Mardis, of Effie, Louisiana. He was shot to death, and there’s even reason to believe those bullets were fired by police officers.

According to the State Police, last night, city marshals attempted to serve Chris Few — Mardis’s father — with a warrant for an as-yet unknown offense. Few fled the scene in his vehicle, with Mardis sitting in the front seat. Police pursued Few until he hit a dead end and allegedly tried to back up into their police vehicle, at which point they opened fire on Few’s car, critically injuring him and killing Mardis. According to coroner Dr. L.J. Mayeux, Mardis suffered a gun shot to the head and multiple shots to the chest, with the majority of the bullets entering via the driver’s side of the car.

I have no idea what these city marshals were serving Few with a warrant for, but I cannot imagine that his crime, nor his decision to flee or back up into their vehicle warranted this level of response, especially if they had any idea whatsoever that there was a child in harm’s way. It’s unclear if they did know, but it certainly doesn’t sound like any effort was made to make sure that there were no innocent lives in the crosshairs. Are the police so determined to nail their suspect on the first try that they’re willing to kill innocent people in the process? We should NOT be okay with innocent people, let alone SIX-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN, being collateral damage in order to make an arrest. Because that is as sick a mentality as whatever motivated the stabbings at UC Merced and the ongoing shooter situation in San Diego.