The myth of a killer in love 

These following paragraphs actually appeared in a news story in this Sunday's Gazette:

Friends of Andrew Brown say the Doherty High School student was out of character when he attacked his ex-girlfriend and those with her. They described him as a helpful big brother-type. But they also said he loved Tiffany Howard deeply and considered her his world. Amanda Barker, 17, said Brown had said Howard was worth dying for.

"We all knew that he completely adored her," she said.

"He must have been hurting," said Alysha Barker, 15.

Brown's obituary, supplied by his family and published in the Gazette, said, "in the end, it was his unwavering love that consumed him and took him from us."

How do we even begin to peel back the layers of what is wrong here?

First, let's consider what actually happened. Last week, 16-year-old Tiffany Howard, a student at Doherty High School, called her friend Jeremy Vasquez and asked him if he'd pick her up because, according to police, she "had some concerns" about her ex, 17-year-old Andrew Brown, whom she had dumped. Vasquez was in a car driven by Michael Fisher, 18, and carrying two other teenage boys. They picked up Howard near the high school.

Soon, they realized that Brown was following their blue Ford Explorer. What followed had to have been nothing short of terrifying for the five teenagers and whoever happened to witness the carnage.

Brown, the jilted boyfriend, displayed a shotgun. He rear-ended the teens' car. Someone in the car called the cops, who provided directions to the Sand Creek police station. But they had no chance.

Brown pulled up next to them and shot Jeremy. Michael, the driver, pulled the car over and they all jumped out, trying to help the bleeding Jeremy. Brown, meanwhile, did a U-turn. He drove back to the Explorer and parked, blocking the street. He got out of his car with the shotgun and fired more shots. He shot Michael, who died at the scene. He then assaulted Tiffany, butting her in the head with the shotgun, fracturing her skull. When police arrived, Brown grabbed a second shotgun from his car and shot himself dead.

Jeremy is now in critical condition, lying in a Denver hospital. The other two teenagers were physically unharmed. And the Gazette subsequently sees fit to describe Brown, the killer, as a "helpful big brother-type"? He was "out of character" when he assaulted and killed other teenagers?

Everybody, the newspaper reported, knows he "completely adored" Tiffany. Yeah, so much so that he cracked her skull open, after murdering and critically injuring two young men to get to her.

Sorry, Gazette, but glorifying someone who carries out such a monstrous act is shameful. The killer's family may have purchased an obituary but that doesn't mean you have to regurgitate those words as if they proved some sort of legitimate rationale.

Yes, it's tragic and senseless that an 18-year-old teenager would possess the kind of blind rage, and two loaded shotguns, to enable him to carry out such an act. There are all sorts of myths that surface following school-related shootings, or the type of teen violence that Colorado Springs witnessed last week. They include statements like, "He didn't fit the profile," and "He just snapped." And, "School violence is just rampant."

Now, it was "out of character."

When this sort of tripe is parroted, it serves only to dilute reality. As the Gazette also reported, one in five U.S. teens reports being abused by boyfriends or girlfriends. School shootings may be rare, but, according to police Sgt. Howard Black, it's "not unusual" for officers to arrest teens for domestic abuse. In fact, last week alone officers made five such arrests in Colorado Springs.

That should be a community clarion call. Instead, thanks to the daily newspaper, we can add a new myth to the pile: Really, the killer was just in love.

For shame.


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