We are charged with changing ‘these times’ back

By TIM BEELAND,

It was a rough weekend. Break-ins, burglaries, robberies, shootings, killings — is there a safe haven anymore? The news of the senseless killings at a Philadelphia, Miss. convenience store Saturday afternoon certainly hit home with a lot of us. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve stopped at that same store for gas, or beer, or chips, or ice, or all of the above.

It’s convenient whether we’re in Philly for shopping, or business, or en route from Sebastopol to tailgate at a home football game at Mississippi State University. In fact the young woman that was shot and killed in the store has more likely than not waited on me or my wife or the both of us at some point.

I sincerely feel for the family of the man that saved no telling how many lives, while losing his own, when he pulled his gun in an attempt to stop the shooter. And to think his wife and young son will have to live with the memory of seeing their husband, and father, murdered down sends chills down my spine.

That could have been any of us and it could have just as easily happened in Forest, or Morton, or Sebastopol, or Lake, or anywhere in between. Think about how many times you stop to fill up your tank, or your tummy, and never even acknowledge the person on the opposite side of the pump, or the potato chip rack.

It seems to me that times have changed so much with people just killing people for no reason at all that we do have to be more alert at the gas station, in the grocery store parking lot, or even out in our own front yards for that matter.

Also over the weekend there were three or four more shootings — and killings — over in Jackson, and another on Beale Street up in Memphis, and one at a video game competition, of all places, down in Florida. But those are all in the city. Those things happen in the city all of the time. We expect that in the city and most of the time, my family at least, is more aware of our surroundings in the city.

But we live in the country. We are supposed to be safe in our towns and in our homes. Something has got to change. I don’t have an answer as to how, or what, or when, but something has got to change.

What’s even more troubling here is that I find myself writing about this sort of thing more often as each year goes by. You will remember it was just about a year-and-a-half ago when Brenda Pinter was shot to death in Dixon Baptist Church on Highway 21 between Sebastopol and Philadelphia. We live three-tenths of a mile off Highway 21 at the Sebastopol city limits between Sebastopol and Philadelphia.

That weekend was the first time in my life that I felt a need to sleep with a gun beside my bed in my own home. In this very space the week after that shooting I wrote, “It all goes to show that a mad man wielding a gun doesn’t care whether you’re in a sparsely populated, secluded area in the country or a well traveled, densely populated metropolitan city...and to think we used to leave the doors unlocked — and even wide open — on pleasant spring nights. Not anymore! It’s a sad sign of the times in which we live,” and now here we are visiting about the same subject once again.

The alleged shooter at Dixon Baptist that late February day, Alex Deaton, pleaded guilty earlier this month in Rankin County for the murder of his girlfriend and was sentenced to life in prison there. Whether he will be returned to Neshoba County to face charges has yet to be determined.

What has been determined is that times have definitely changed and we, honest, law abiding citizens are now charged with changing them back. I wonder if we’re up to the challenge. I sure hope so, and I hope it’s before you are reading this story again in this same space!