Sunday, February 27, 2005

Follow Up on Mark Wilson Story

I posted about Mark Alan Wilson who shot at a man named Arroyo while he was shooting people in Tyler, Texas. Mr. Wilson lost his life in the attack. I am not sure why this death troubles me, but it does. Here is what I found in Tyler's paper.

Mr. Wilson's memorial service will be today at 1:30 pm in Tyler's town square. I plan on taking my own moment of silence at 2:30 my time. This is the deaths and funerals notice. Arroyo, his ex-wife, and Wilson are listed in the deaths section.

This story has eyewitness accounts. Wilson suffered a gunshot to his head. One eyewitness says police rushed to aid fallen police officers, but ignored Arroyo's ex-wife and Wilson, at least right away. There is also a schematic of the town square.

This article gives more detail about Arroyo's rampage and his eventual death at the hands of police officers. Arroyo's autopsy shows Wilson may have hit him in the groin. Body armor stopped Wilson's other bullets. There is evidence that police and Wilson hit Arroyo numerous times, but body armor stopped bullets from killing him. Warrants have been served on Arroyo's residence, but no word if other weapons were found.

Part of Arroyo's rampage was caught on tape. He started shooting inside the courthouse and fired an "untold" number of shots damaging glass, marble, and ceiling tiles. The same article said he used a "Mac-90." That should be MAK-90, which is an AK clone from Norinco Industries of China. I don't know if it had the "sporterized" thumbhole stock. The article has a truly sad picture of where Wilson fell and "HERO" is spelled out in flowers.

The crime scene is massive. It will take days to process it. Arroyo drove about two miles before police stopped him. Evidently, Arroyo fired inside the courthouse lobby, but baliffs and deputies prevented him from entering any further, otherwise the death toll could have been higher.

Another article talks about Arroyo's gun. It again misspells it as Mac-90. There are the usual quotes. Things like police officers were outgunned and gunstore owners saying it was the user not the gun. All true, and all expected. The reporter makes a serious error in his research at the website AK-47.us. He mis-copied something when he says Arroyo's gun, "...is capable of firing 600 rounds per minute." A true AK-47 fires this fast, but not this semi-auto version. A (probably) police bullet damaged an area with information needed to trace the MAK-90--serial number I presume. I am not familiar with this gun and don't know if the serial number is in more than one place. The article states Arroyo had no felony convictions, but had been arrested on assault and weapons charges.

Another article puts a more human face on Arroyo. His mother's death, legal problems, a job loss, and being behind $9,000.00 in child support payments took their toll. He assaulted his wife and family during the divorce and been arrested. There was no other history of domestic violence. There is no mention of a restraining order or similar. He seemed to blame "the system" more than his ex-wife (and she was killed by him). We need more detail to determine if he held guns illegally or not. There are interviews with neighbors most of whom had no idea Arroyo could have been violent.

State Senator, Kevin Eltife, of Tyler wants to make it legal for District Attorneys to carry a concealed weapon in a courthouse. Judges can do so now. Of course, no judge or lawyer shot back at Arroyo. I don't like making separate classes of people. Anyone with a concealed carry permit should be able to carry in almost any public place. Still, Eltife called Wilson a hero and said, "Because he had his license, had his gun, got involved, stood up for what he believed in ... I think he saved some lives at the courthouse Thursday."

There is a profile of the deceased ex-wife and her relationship with Arroyo. There was some violence during the divorce, but there were no reports of violence before April 2004. Arroyo's son, the one he wounded, may have beat up his father while protecting his mother.

As I said, I am not sure why this story bothers me so much. I carry a gun often, but have no illusions about my own or other people's abilities in a firefight. Protecting yourself and others with a gun is a gamble, but so is not being armed in a sometimes violent world. Wilson lost his gamble, but he saved others and is a hero. Perhaps, if more good people had been armed, Arroyo may have died sooner. I don't know and no one does.

Bill points out that this story makes you think. It captures almost everything about guns in society. Arroyo seemed decent until he snapped then planned and carried out this shooting. How do you keep guns from him, but not people like Wilson? Then there is Wilson, a truly decent man, who tried to stop the rampage with a gun and lost his life saving others. He carried a gun and if he had not acted more people would be dead today. Rest in Peace.

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