A tragic story with a tender twist

The headline read, “Cop-Shooting Fugitive Dies in Gun Battle with State Police and FBI”.

(Attribution: Arlington Heights Patch)

The incident itself was all too familiar — a disturbed guy with a lengthy criminal record shoots and wounds a small-town police officer following a traffic stop, then flees into a nearby forest. He is armed and desperate.

He breaks into a church, where he steals donation money, medical supplies, and food. He is then spotted with an assault rifle and a shoulder belt of ammunition, running through the church cemetery toward an abandoned house.

Never a good situation.

An FBI SWAT team and the State Police track him there and in the ensuing confrontation, an agent is wounded and the subject is killed. The automatic rifle is found next to the gunman’s lifeless body, suggesting he was bent on more violence had he not been stopped.

This man was clearly troubled and homicidal, arguably even suicidal, to shoot a police officer and then engage in an armed standoff with law enforcement. He represented a danger to himself and everyone around him until he was finally brought down in a hail of bullets.

What made this incident stand out to me, though, was not the circumstances; these situations, while tragic, are unfortunately not uncommon. What flattened me was what the man’s father said afterward.

Here was his son: a fugitive, a thief, a would-be killer. Yet when interviewed, the dad said, “I know he did wrong. I just wish I could put a blanket around him.”

Who knows what kind of history these two had together? We can only speculate at this point. The news article says the father had contemplated going down to Southern Illinois to try and convince his son to surrender. Circumstances unfolded too quickly for that and the opportunity was lost.

When all was said and done, the father acknowledged his son had screwed up, but then with that one tender statement, he made it obvious that this dangerous, angry, hardened criminal was still loved by someone. He was loved by his father.

As a Christian, my mind immediately goes to God, the Father. Many times in the Bible, we read where He reached out to His dangerous, angry, sin-hardened children, offering them a different way, a better way.

Sometimes they accepted His offer and sometimes they didn’t, but either way the Father gave them the choice, accepted their decision, and continued to love them.

We are those people. We are the children bent on doing regrettable things, tempted to engage in behavior that could damage or destroy our reputations, our families, perhaps even our lives. God begs us to surrender to Him and avoid the carnage. In love, He urges us to repent and take a different path.

Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.

But even when we don’t and the fallout is painful, even when we suffer exactly the consequences our actions deserve, God offers forgiveness and restoration.

He is our Father and He never stops wanting to “put a blanket around us.”


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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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