We’ve known for decades that the world is getting smaller. Global satellite communications, air travel, international trade and the Internet mean that a bank run in Cyprus, a civil war in Syria or a kook with nukes in North Korea all impact life in these United States.
The world comes into our living rooms every day via newspapers, TV, Facebook and Twitter.
It comes down the highway too.
I was on my way back from a quick trip to Lubbock Thursday afternoon when I turned on the radio, hoping to hear the news before I lost the signal in the middle of the Four Sixes Ranch.
The lead item was the same one I’d seen in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that morning and in USA Today and on TV the night before: the shooting of Colorado’s top prison official as he answered the door at his home.
Thursday, the story came to Texas.
That’s all they said at first – that the suspect had been the subject of a police chase in Texas and had been shot. I thought, “C’mon guys. Texas is a big state. Where?”
The next thing I heard was the voice of Wise County Sheriff David Walker.
As you’ve no doubt already heard, and can read and see in vivid detail in this issue of the Messenger, the suspect in that Colorado shooting made it all the way to Montague County before Sheriff’s Deputy James Boyd pulled him over. For his efforts, Boyd was shot three times before the suspect, Evan Ebel, drove into Wise County.
Boyd is expected to recover thanks to God and his protective vest.
Ebel led a high-speed chase right down 287 into the middle of Decatur. He fired numerous times at Wise County deputies, DPS officers and Decatur police before he wrecked, crawled out still shooting and was shot. Police Chief Rex Hoskins’ car was shot four times. A deputy’s vehicle and perhaps some civilians’ cars were also hit.
The incident brought back painful memories for those who remember the April 2, 2009, death of Bridgeport Police Sgt. Randy White.
White was in his vehicle when it was hit by a car driven by Stephen York, who was fleeing officers in another high-speed chase. York pled guilty and is serving a life sentence in prison with no possibility of parole.
Ebel got his sentence at the scene.
Law enforcement is a community that includes not only police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and Texas Rangers – it takes in dispatchers, clerks, firefighters and EMS personnel, everyone whose job description requires them to put the public’s safety ahead of their own.
I sit next to Rex Hoskins at Decatur City Council meetings. His dry sense of humor prompts him to vote “no” to every parade and fun run request even though he knows his vote doesn’t count. He’s a family man, active in his community, a willing and capable public servant.
But Thursday, he and all those other officers were running on pure training and instinct. Somebody was driving into their town with guns blazing, and they were ready to do whatever it took to keep him from killing anyone else.
Any of them could have easily died at that scene. Hoskins said it was obvious Ebel had no intention of surviving this situation. It’s just as obvious that he wanted to take some of our officers with him.
By the grace of God, he didn’t. We could easily be planning another funeral today, but instead, all those officers went home to their families Thursday night.
Next time you see one of them, a thank-you would be in order – even if they’re walking up to your car window to give you a ticket.
Just smile, grit your teeth and remember what they’re willing to risk so that you get to go home tonight.
Bob Buckel is executive editor of the Messenger.