The Tragedy at Kroger: A 6-year-old Dead

Last night, a mom in Jackson,  Miss., let her six-year-old son stay sleeping in the car while she ran into Kroger. While she was inside, it seems that three car thieves stole the vehicle and at some point they ended up shooting the boy, Kingston Frazier, dead.

A photo of someone carrying the mom like a rag doll turned my heart to lead. She had fainted with grief.

It’s a feeling we all instantly understand, and it may haunt us. I was reading the other day about how empathy, that wonderful human emotion, is also no friend of freedom. Once we empathize with a loss, it’s only natural to want to prevent anything like that from ever happening again, no matter what it takes: A law. A vow of constant protection. An embrace of vengeance.

It struck me as sickening that the news reports carried a click-through photo album of all the different family members reacting. As if flipping through nine pictures of one shocked relative after the next had some point, other than an invitation to gorge on tragedy.

At this site, we’ll soon get back to our discussion of what it means to think we can prevent all risk. But for right now, the only thing I’m grateful for is the outpouring of support, not shame, for the mom. But that is small comfort indeed.

I decided not to run a photo of the grieving family. Too painful, without any redeeming reason to show it.

 

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66 Responses to The Tragedy at Kroger: A 6-year-old Dead

  1. Mrs. O May 18, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

    My heart is broken for her. Only prayers for that poor Mama.

  2. Jill May 18, 2017 at 10:04 pm #

    Thank you for this!

    It is entirely possible to reject the idea that danger lurks around every corner and – at the same time – have genuine feelings of sympathy, compassion, and empathy for those who are affected by actual crimes or accidents.

    No, we don’t need another law here, or law enforcement officers swooping down on this town, or some magic bubble to put all our children in. We just need some compassion for this family. We need to stop victim shaming and blaming and more empathy and understanding.

    Thank you for not adding to the grief by posting pictures or videos!

  3. Daron May 18, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    i couldn’t believe that photo set either. how disrespectful to show the grieving family that way. what a terrible tragedy.

  4. Jessica May 18, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

    Bizarre and awful story. My son is about that age, and my heart aches at this.

  5. donald May 18, 2017 at 11:42 pm #

    The picture of the “X” is great and I wish more would follow suit. It sickens me that tragedy like this is a ratings goldmine. The many photos of grieving family members are typical of this bonanza.

    Q. Why does the news do this?
    A. because it works.

    I’d be embarrassed if I was a drama junky. Whether a person approves or disapproves of the way the media covers the story is irrelevant. They still reward their behavior every time they tune into the story or fall for the click bait.

  6. Marie May 18, 2017 at 11:49 pm #

    An embrace of vengeance.

    A great line, and one I hope people remember as a warning against the desperation we feel when bad things happen on ordinary days.

    Peace will be a long time coming for that family but I hope they are surrounded with love until it finds them.

  7. James Pollock May 19, 2017 at 12:24 am #

    If only this woman had taken her car with her into the store, this never would have happened!

  8. gap.runner May 19, 2017 at 1:42 am #

    The comments that people are leaving on other sites that have posted about this tragedy mostly blame the mother and are very judgemental. But we don’t know her circumstances. Maybe the mother just finished working the late shift and had picked her child up at the babysitter’s. But if an adult was in the car when it was stolen, the reaction would be so much different. Imagine if a woman left her sleeping husband in the car with the engine running. Let’s say that the husband was ill, or severely jet lagged, and fell asleep on a hot summer night. The woman left the engine running so that her husband would have air conditioning and be comfortable while she ran into the store to buy some juice for the next morning’s breakfast. The car was stolen and the husband was killed. Nobody would bat an eyelash or say that the woman was negligent for leaving her husband alone in a car.

  9. David Trenkamp May 19, 2017 at 3:13 am #

    I want to give my condolences to the family
    And thank you for respecting the family’s privicy in this time of lost to everyone.

  10. James Pollock May 19, 2017 at 3:15 am #

    “But if an adult was in the car when it was stolen, the reaction would be so much different.”

    That’s not far distant from the circumstances of Michael Jordan’s father. He was sleepy while driving late at night, so he pulled over to grab a few Z’s. He was murdered and the car stolen.

  11. BL May 19, 2017 at 4:50 am #

    Remember when we blamed criminals for crimes?

    Ah, but We Are So Much Smarter Now(tm)!

  12. Joan May 19, 2017 at 8:50 am #

    In this case, there is a correct and obvious direction to lay blame: the monsters who stole a car and, much more egregiously, murdered a child. Laying any portion of blame on the mother, or anywhere else, is letting the venal perpetrators of a horrible crime off the hook for their actions. They are solely responsible for the crime, and deserve the entirety of blame and punishment.

  13. Lori Obrien May 19, 2017 at 9:25 am #

    My heart breaks for the family.

  14. Geneva Stephens May 19, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    Prayers for this family

  15. JKP May 19, 2017 at 11:36 am #

    It was 2:30 in the morning. Are there seriously any helicopter parents suggesting this mother should have woken her child up and brought him in the store in the middle of the night? How horrible for this family, but I don’t think there is anything this mother could have done differently with the information she had at the time. I’m glad they caught the criminals who did it so quickly, and I’m glad they’re charged with capital murder. Hopefully future car thieves will abandon kids safe and alive (as almost all of the them already do) rather than kill them.

  16. Catherine Caldwell-Harris May 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    @JKP — could the mother have turned the engine off and locked the car? An parked car with engine running gets attention from thieves of joy riders.

    Is it wrong to leave a sleeping child or husband in a parked locked vehicle?

  17. Kenny Felder May 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    I’m going to sound heartless here, and I apologize for that in advance.

    According to UNICEF, about 29,000 children under the age of five die every day. Every single one of those is a real child, with a real mother who loved him. Every day. And MOST OF THESE DEATHS ARE FROM PREVENTABLE CAUSES. Not fires and kidnappings, of course. Hunger, when there is plenty of food to go around. Diseases, for which the cures have existed for decades.

    But once in a long while, one of those 29,000 deaths raises to the level of “news.” It’s fascinating and disturbing to think about why those particular deaths are chosen for this special attention and sympathy.

    In my more cynical moments, it seems to me that what appears to be an outpouring of compassion is actually a twisted kind of titillation. “I’m so sorry for that poor mother” is code for “I’m so fascinated by this great story.” That is really too strong, because I know there is genuine human sympathy, but it seems to be rooted in the idea that child deaths are tragic (which they are) and rare (which they are not). In fact everyone who reads this blog (certainly including me) could do a lot more to prevent a lot of those deaths. That would demonstrate real compassion.

  18. Jennifer C May 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    @Kenny

    The reason why things like this get news coverage is because they happen so rarely. And an event like this is so completely out of the blue that I’m not sure that there’s any way to predict or prevent it.

  19. Eric S May 19, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    @gap.runner: Exactly. It’s not about leaving the child in the car, it’s about the car thieves. If there was an adult in the car with the child sleeping (or awake for that matter), if the thieves WANTED to steal that car, they WILL steal that car. And there would be two dead. Somethings are just beyond our control. Wrong time, wrong place. Life is crappy that way. The only “silver lining” is that these are very, very rare occurrences. Condolences to the family. I hope that the mother doesn’t blame herself for this. She did nothing wrong.

  20. Hazel May 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    @Kenny Felder,

    Yes you do sound heartless, but that’s ok. It’s an interesting thing to think about. It’s even more interesting that little Kingston Frazier isn’t even in those stats, because he was six. Your figure is only children under five, not all children. The rate of child death is far higher than even 29,000 per day, which is already more than 20 children per minute.

    You do make a good point (which is relvant to this site) about how much we seem to like to revel in disaster and how odd it is that our compassionate outpourings seem quite arbitrary when you consider the bigger picture of the tens of thousands of children (hundreds of thousands perhaps?) who die every day.

    But then it’s very understandable, really. We can’t comprehend hundreds of thousands of children dying a day, it’s too big. It’s understandable that we get locked onto a single death.

    Such a senseless tragedy. Such stupid car thieves for trying to make off with a vehicle containing a child. Such inhumanity to shoot that child when they could have dropped him off somewhere with a high population. At least then he would have had a chance.

    Criminals usually have standards. I hope the knowledge of what they have done haunts them forever and I hope (probably vainly) that the poor lad’s death won’t be used as an excuse for knee-jerk legislation. Occasionally, knee-jerk legislation is a good thing (Clare’s Law in the UK), but at lot of the time it isn’t.

  21. Workshop May 19, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    Kenny,

    Deaths of children are rare in the Western world.

    Could we do more to prevent the few deaths that occur? Sure. We could ban children from automobiles. We could pass laws that require children to have monthly check-ups, either by a doctor or by CPS. We could require parents pass IQ tests before being allowed the privilege to produce offspring. We could eliminate trees from yards so no one would fall out of them. We could pass laws requiring genetic tests to determine if parents are carrying markers for diseases that hit children disproportionally high, and then force-sterilize the hopeful want-to-be-parents if they do carry those genetic markers.

    We could do so much more. Thank God we don’t.

  22. SKL May 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    Well I think the reason this kind of case makes news is because our society likes to shame mothers.

    There are many murders of young children in drive-by shootings, revenge gang shootings, etc., but because nobody can think of a way to blame the mother, because there won’t be an online feeding frenzy, those are less newsworthy.

    But here you have a bereaved mother who could have chosen differently. Whose decision was in fact the opposite of what many of us would do. Who can be blamed! This is the kind of story our culture loves. Women hating on other women. We’re a sick society.

  23. lollipoplover May 19, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    The harder part to address with this senseless act of violence is why 18 year-old “kids” are killing 6 year-old kids.

    We used to have a society that had empathy and prayers for victims of violence. Now we have comments with lots of opinions and plenty of blame. I wish people thought before they typed such mean things that you know the family will see.

  24. Jennifer C May 19, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    The shaming of this poor mom is insane. I mean,at 2:30 in the morning when you have a sleeping little one–who honestly wants to wake them up, get them out of the car seat and drag them into the store? My mother would have done the same when I was that age and even younger–and she often did. The tragedy that happened in this case was such a freak occurrence–no one could have possibly predicted it.

  25. Caiti May 19, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    @jennifer c @workshop
    While I can’t speak for Kenny, when I read his comment I assumed he meant deaths in the rest of the world. He specifically cited hunger and disease. When he said they are preventable, I thought he meant they were preventable if people like us donated time and resources to ensure everyone had enough to eat, vaccinations, etc.

  26. Jennifer C May 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    @Caiti

    Yeah, I agree–I think I misread the statement. Apologies.

  27. hineata May 19, 2017 at 3:51 pm #

    I just happened to read this story on one of our national news sites, and I didn’t expect it to be the same one as you were discussing here. That shows how rare this type of thing is.

    I find it hard describing the 17 year olds that shot the boy as monsters, though. Are they responsible for his death? Yes. But these boys have effectively thrown their own lives away too, what with the ridiculously punitive ‘justice’ system you have up there. Several tragedies happening in this story.

  28. hineata May 19, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    As for the child being in the car at that time of the night, I had to do that several times after late night doctor runs with El Sicko. Fortunately no one ever tried to take the car. We don’t tend to leave the car running down here, but still, sounds like it’s common practice up there and not something the mum needs to blame herself for.

  29. Caritas May 19, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

    I wasn’t going to comment… but I read this three hours ago, and I can’t get it out of my head.

    First of all, my heart is broken for this family, and especially for the mother, of that precious little boy. This is a burden no one deserves to bear. This was absolutely a senseless tragedy, and the villains of the piece are the three young men who chose to steal the car and commit murder. There is no justification, rationalization or excuse for what they have done (though there will also be those who will point out the tragic circumstances of their lives that led to this outcome), and I hope that they are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. In a perfect world, anyone should be able to leave a running unlocked vehicle anywhere, for any amount of time, and return to find it right where they left it, without question.

    The trouble is, we don’t live in a perfect world, and anyone who lives by free-range ideals as though we do, is really missing the point of freedom, in general. It’s true that there is no way to render life completely risk free, yet for me key to free-range is taking personal responsibility for managing and minimizing very real risks to the greatest degree we can, so as to increase our sense of freedom in the world. This isn’t a case of que sera sera, this is an example of how not managing and minimizing very real risk ended in tragedy… as it often does.

    While I don’t think the mother is legally/morally culpable here, and I would stand up and defend her against anyone who would attempt to hold her accountable in any way, I can’t agree that this is an entirely unforeseen tragedy.

    I don’t think this woman is a ‘bad’ mother, and the level of compassion I feel for her is in no way impacted by what I consider a dubious series of choices, but I also can’t believe I’m the only one here asking, “what could she have been thinking?”

    A sleeping child, at night, in a locked NOT running car may still have produced the same outcome, but at least this is defensible within the realm of possible/real risk in these circumstances… it could be said that she did all she could have *reasonably* done. I can’t, for the life of me, comprehend anyone leaving a young child (or anyone vulnerable… I wouldn’t leave my sleeping/sick husband either), alone, in a running unlocked car, at night, in a high-traffic area. The potential risks are just too high… because we don’t live in a perfect world.

    It took ages to teach my daughter that not all unexpected and undesirable outcomes are ‘accidents’… that freedom comes with the responsibility to attempt to ‘look around corners’, and consider possible outcomes when making choices. I can’t leave my car empty, running and unlocked at my local all-night grocery and expect it to be there when I return… it may well be, but I can’t expect it to be. In my world, that would be unreasonable.

    I wish with all my heart that this incident had all ended differently; but I can’t say, under the circumstances, I’m surprised it didn’t.

  30. Michelle May 19, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    Caritas, I agree that it’s not a very good idea to leave a car running and unlocked, child inside or no. (Even though the chances are still pretty small of your car being targeted by thieves, AND the thieves either not noticing or not caring about the small child inside, AND the thieves then deciding to harm your child instead of running away from the imminent kidnapping charges, it’s not the risk I would take.) The problem is that we, as a society, have been relentlessly pounding the drumbeat that children cannot be safely left in a car without a/c for even a moment without being in mortal danger. I have an acquaintance who was CONVINCED that it is not only illegal, but unquestionable child abuse, if I put my child in the car and then run back into the house to get my purse. She wasn’t alone in this belief, and in fact learned it from a “safety” class in her workplace. She and others equated this to putting my child in a 400 degree oven and walking away.

    We can’t treat every minute danger as absolutely equal, absolutely likely, and absolutely mortal, and then turn around and blame parents for mistakenly choosing to risk the slightly-more-likely of two fairly unlikely dangers.

  31. Jennifer C May 19, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    Hineata–

    There was something similar to this that happened in our area, only with an 8-year-old child in the car. Thankfully the 8-year-old was not harmed, in fact the thieves dropped him off at his school, right on time.

  32. Gina May 19, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    I read this story this morning…and I just want to ask those men…WHY DID YOU KILL HIM? How could you put a bullet into a 6-year-old you didn’t know?? What kind of humans can do that????
    NOT the mother’s fault; responsibility for actions lays on the perpertrators of those actions.

  33. hineata May 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    @Caritas – the ‘fullest extent of the law’ in this case is execution, which is just ridiculous. I wonder if the kids who took him might have panicked and shot him to get rid of the witness, when they realized they could be done for kidnapping as well as simple car theft.

    Stop the twin tragedies of ridiculously easy access to guns by crazy teens (which are a detached weapon you don’t have to think much about using, as opposed to knives, which involve personal very up close action) and ridiculously punitive sentences for crime, and an outcome like this may be less likely to occur. May…

    You are never going to prevent all criminal activity by teens. They tend to be both impulsive and really stupid at times. Executing a few, or sentencing them to life without parole or something equally harsh, won’t stop a darn thing. It will simply make them more likely to try to eliminate witnesses.

  34. donald May 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    I habitually try to understand WHY people act the way they do. This is still the case even when I’m horrified by their actions. In the case of the verbally bashing and the mother where many are pointing blame and seeking revenge against her, I find this equally as disgusting as a person that will drown puppies for sheer entertainment! However, I still try to understand why they do it.

    I’ve spoken often about The Invisible Gorilla. It’s a case study/experiment where the participants were SSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO focused on their task that they failed to see a person in a gorilla suit standing in the center of the video that they’re intensely watching!

    I think the ruthless blamers are unaware that their actions are as uncompassionate as a serial rapist/killer!

  35. James Pollock May 19, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    “the ‘fullest extent of the law’ in this case is execution, which is just ridiculous. I wonder if the kids who took him might have panicked and shot him to get rid of the witness, when they realized they could be done for kidnapping as well as simple car theft”

    No, if the criminals were 17, then the fullest extent of the law is life in prison. (A 2005 Supreme Court decision bans execution of people under 18 at the time the crime occurred.)

  36. hineata May 19, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    Not according to the article I read, James, which indicates that 17 year olds are tried as adults (or can be tried, and indications are that they will be). A lawyer might be able to give us the facts.

  37. hineata May 19, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    A better outcome would be a prison sentence that is over by the end of their twenties (with education and training involved ) and the, PROVIDED they show remorse and the ability to change, a lifetime of looking out for the parents and siblings of the boy they killed in whatever way the family deem appropriate. …financial, practical, or working voluntarily in the community etc.

    I refuse to believe that teenagers are irredeemable, even teens that do something as plainly bad as this.

  38. James Pollock May 19, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    “Not according to the article I read, James, which indicates that 17 year olds are tried as adults”

    “Being tried as an adult” and “being subject to capital punishment” are not the same thing.

    ” A lawyer might be able to give us the facts.”

    Or you could spend 2 minutes and Google “Roper v. Simmons 2005”.(or “543 U.S. 551”, if you want to read the actual decision instead of just news about it… though that’ll take longer, those Justices can be a bit wordy.)

  39. hineata May 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I am a New Zealander and not in any way interested in the legalities of your justice system beyond making a few comments on its ridiculous severity. I have no intention of wasting my time on reading further. I was simply asking if an actual US lawyer had an opinion (not that I stated US, but it is reasonable to assume that the bulk of people reading this site are US-based ).

    Thank you for taking the time to copy and paste bits of my writing though.

  40. James Pollock May 19, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

    “I am a New Zealander and not in any way interested in the legalities of your justice system”
    Gee. Sorry I brought up the topic and dragged you into it, then.

    “I have no intention of wasting my time on reading further.”
    So you won’t be trying to “correct” me again, then?

    “Thank you for taking the time to copy and paste bits of my writing though.”
    No charge.

    “the legalities of your justice system beyond making a few comments on its ridiculous severity.”
    And didn’t appreciate having it pointed out that the ridiculous severity was, well, not actually real.

    We can talk about New Zealand’s legal system… like whether it’s OK to use a copyrighted song for political campaign purposes without paying the songwriter, composer, or performer. And what’s the deal with making a river a legal person?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCDqHVMzyl8

  41. Beth May 19, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

    @James P, thanks for taking control AGAIN of a thoughtful conversation. You’re an ass.

  42. May May 19, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    @Caritas, well stated. While I would never say this was the mother’s fault, I don’t know how free-range parents can support leaving a child in a running, unlocked car in the middle of the night. I mean, it’s just common sense. I consider myself pretty free-range, certainly more than anyone I know. I live in an extremely safe suburb and there’s no way I would ever do that. If I had to stop at the store in the middle of the night for some emergency, I’d just carry my 6 year old in. When endorsing free-range behaviors we have to be careful not to simply support bad parenting choices. it takes power from the message. I’m sure mom is being vilified online and I don’t condone that at all, we can be against that without saying she made a good choice.

    @hineata. Really don’t get how you don’t think whoever shot that little boy was a monster. I have a lot of teenagers in my life, I know what they’re like. They know better. Anyone at any age knows better. There’s absolutely no excuse for shooting a child. How can you hope they get out in 10 years for taking the life of a total innocent?!

  43. Jill R May 19, 2017 at 9:27 pm #

    @Workshop,
    I think Kenny Felder was trying to shed light on child deaths that could be prevented with some very reasonable actions, without society having to give up all those freedoms you pointed out.

    Like if a few of the richest countries in the world each sacrificed a couple percent out of their defense budgets, and made a huge dent in world hunger, if not eliminated it altogether.
    Domestically, the US could increase taxation on the wealthy, or even just on mega-corporations, and use that money to invest in impoverished neighborhoods in an effort to reduce violent crime and improve living conditions.

    I know these are oversimplified examples, but I just wanted to point out that we don’t have to jump straight to a dystopian future of en masse forced sterilization. It doesn’t have to be black and white, there is always a grey area/middle ground.

  44. James Pollock May 19, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    “@James P, thanks for taking control AGAIN of a thoughtful conversation. You’re an ass.”

    Are you even capable of contributing anything other than complaining about and/or insulting me? (Nice twofer, BTW)

  45. Ernie Menard May 19, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    I visit your site occasionally, this after an initial introduction by SHG [Simple Justice.]

    “As if flipping through nine pictures of one shocked relative after the next had some point, other than an invitation to gorge on tragedy.” succinct summation

  46. bevegan May 19, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

    The monsters that did this should be hunted to the ends of the earth and shown what exactly cruel and unusual punishment is.

  47. hineata May 20, 2017 at 2:24 am #

    @Beth – nothing changes. James demonstrates once again his ability to push a few buttons on a keyboard and check Google.

    The Whanganui River has nothing to do with throwing kids in jail and leaving them to rot, but it has gained the status of a legal person as a means of recognizing the meaning it has to the local iwi, and to allow conservation work to be carried out as a priority. The Urewera National Park has a similar status, and is part of the Treaty Settlement for Tuhoe. Something the US Government should be looking at, given the appalling way Native Americans have been treated over the years.

  48. John B. May 20, 2017 at 3:15 am #

    What happened to that boy, being carjacked and then murdered, was extremely rare. Don’t know if Mississippi has the death penalty, but I hope those killers fry!

  49. BL May 20, 2017 at 4:24 am #

    @May
    ” If I had to stop at the store in the middle of the night for some emergency, I’d just carry my 6 year old in”

    What if there’s a armed robbery in the store, bullets are fired, and your child is hit?

  50. Christopher Byrne May 20, 2017 at 6:57 am #

    The reason I visit this site every day and am generally so inspired by what I read here is completely summed up in Jill’s response:

    “It is entirely possible to reject the idea that danger lurks around every corner and – at the same time – have genuine feelings of sympathy, compassion, and empathy for those who are affected by actual crimes or accidents.”

    As Lenore says, the desire to “gorge on tragedy” is pervasive in this culture. It becomes a form of entertainment, and that distances and demeans the human experience.

    We are such a conflicted and messy species, subject to random forces and unexpected events. Culturally, we used to know this. Tragedy and joy co-existed as part of the full spectrum of experience. We can not legislate away the inherent chaotic unpredictability of existence. We only delude ourselves when we think we can.

    It’s why I love reading the comments, particularly on this thread, the kind of rational compassion and deep feeling expressed is a tonic to me. It is never about doing anything that would harm kids but the ongoing challenge of embracing the realities of life…and raising kids who are able to do that, too.

    We’ll all face tragedy and, one hopes, great joy. As A.E. Housman wrote, “Today, this road all runners come…”

    I can’t even imagine the mother’s grief, and I don’t need to see pictures to have my heart broken by her loss and the cruelty of this tragedy.

  51. Anna May 20, 2017 at 8:54 am #

    ” If I had to stop at the store in the middle of the night for some emergency, I’d just carry my 6 year old in.”

    Why is it better parenting to wake a deeply sleeping child in the wee hours and drag him, groggy or wailing miserably, through a grocery store?

    And as many have asked, what if it had been her husband sleeping in the back seat? That would not change the salient facts of this story in any way – which means this isn’t precisely a “parenting” issue.

    Parents have an obligation to use their adult judgment and strength to guide, protect, and help their children when it’s necessary because the children don’t yet have those things. That’s quite different than an obligation to be a universal bodyguard against all bad things that could ever happen by chance.

    Although personally, I would have turned the car off and taken the keys in with me, whether the sleeping person was a child or adult. . .

  52. May May 20, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    In the middle of the night, in a bad neighborhood, it seems more safe to have your child with you than without. Obviously you can’t control the store getting shot up, that would be an I foreseeable tragedy. But a car unlocked and running in the middle of the night in a bad area is an obvious bad choice. Let alone with a sleeping child (or adult).

    To be honest the story is a little fishy, she didn’t tell the police that her child was in the car for almost two hours.

  53. James Pollock May 20, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    “In the middle of the night, in a bad neighborhood, it seems more safe to have your child with you than without”

    Well, to the extent that we believe that we have control over events, if we’re there we can do something, and if we aren’t there we can’t. Wherever a child is, there are dangers specific to that environment. Out in the parking lot, those dangers include car theives and drunk drivers; in the store they include armed robbers, and both of these are fairly low incidence. Keeping the child with you vs. leaving them in the car is a parenting choice and the “right” answer may vary… some children can be left alone with confidence, some with less confidence, and some should not be left alone. The choice to leave a child in the car or take the child inside probably doesn’t significantly alter the actual danger the child is in. Statistically, a child is far more likely to be murdered by mom or dad than by a stranger.

    On the other hand, leaving the engine running, unattended, probably DOES significantly alter the odds of having the car stolen, as well as a few other, amazingly rare possibilities. I wouldn’t (don’t) do that.

    My choices on the matter are substantially affected by the fact that I had one child. If I’d had more, that might have changed my opinion. My choices were also affected by the actual personality of my child. Had she been different, my opinion might have been different. Right out of college, I lived in an apartment complex where, literally every night, the meth-heads would open up my truck toolbox looking for something to steal. That definitely affected my judgment.

  54. Caritas May 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

    @ hineata: I’m sorry my ‘fullest extent of the law’ comment offended you. I actually am not American, and am not familiar with specifics of their legal system. I was speaking from my own mindset which doesn’t include capital punishment… and while I can have compassion for these young men, as another poster stated: I know A LOT of teenagers just as impulse/stupidity driven as these three, who would never have chosen as these three did. I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority would have not. This situation is just as statistically rare on both sides of the coin.

    @ Christopher Byrne: Beautifully expressed. Thank you.

    @ May: “When endorsing free-range behaviors we have to be careful not to simply support bad parenting choices. it takes power from the message. I’m sure mom is being vilified online and I don’t condone that at all, we can be against that without saying she made a good choice.” Equally well-stated. Thank you.

    @ Anna: “Why is it better parenting to wake a deeply sleeping child in the wee hours and drag him, groggy or wailing miserably, through a grocery store?”

    It’s not “better parenting”, but under particular circumstances, it may well be “prudent parenting” “shrewder parenting” “safer parenting.”

    I have always left my daughter in the car alone (from babyhood on), in a variety of situations, for varying lengths of time… often more than just ‘in and out’… and I may have also left her in that car under the same conditions being discussed here, too… but never unlocked, and with the keys in it. That is what changes this for me.

    Yes… these sorts of tragedies are statistically rare (though car theft is statistically a crime of opportunity), yet I think there is a point where, even as a free-range parent, the most remote possibility has to be considered in certain circumstances because even the most remote possibility of harm is just too horrible to risk… and IS apparently considered by most, judging by how many here admittedly wouldn’t have made the same choice as this mother.

    Again, I would NEVER say all of this to this poor mother (she now has a lifetime to ponder this for herself), and this mistake doesn’t make her an overall bad mom, and she should not be punished, or vilified. But I cannot say that she didn’t take and unreasonable risk, and I would say she took an unreasonable risk even if things had not played out as they did.

    I feel that we, as free-range parents, are in the best position and have the most responsibility to model and uphold the fact that, despite what we would wish, there are limits to how ‘free’ we can truly be… simply because we do not live in a perfect world.

    Free range, and openly acknowledging that there is a such a thing a questionable parenting choices, are not mutually exclusive.

    It is possible to judge actions/choices, without vilifying and persecuting the person engaging in them.

  55. dawn52 May 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    My thoughts of going to a store in the middle of the night and being in a bad place ? Myself I would not leave a 6 year old in the car by himself! Anyone in their right mind should know that as a parent, they are responsible for the safety and protection of their children.

  56. Ariel May 20, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    @JKP: “It was 2:30 in the morning. Are there seriously any helicopter parents suggesting this mother should have woken her child up and brought him in the store in the middle of the night?”

    I had no comment until my dad brought it up today; unsurprisingly, he is one of those people; his exact words were “that woman got her baby killed”, followed later by exactly what you said, waking the kid up and taking him into the store with her. He thinks she had her head buried in the sand about what goes on in the world and blames her for “not being aware”.

    My thought was, that people would probaly STILL guilt the poor mom if she’d done that and ended up getting run down by a crazy driver in the parking lot trying to keep a steady enough pace for her groggy cranky child. Because a groggy cranky human in an active parking lot is SOOOO much better than allowing them to sleep in a normally safe space. /s

  57. Donna May 20, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    hineata –

    In general, you are correct that a juvenile charged as an adult is subject to the same penalty as an actual adult would be. The two exceptions to that are death and mandatory life without parole (juveniles are eligible to receive a sentence of life without parole for murder after consideration of all the circumstances including age, but mandatory life without parole penalties do not apply to them). The US Supreme Court has found both these sentences to be cruel and unusual punishment for minors. So, in this case, the worst sentence the 17 year olds could receive is life without parole. However, the state could seek the death penalty for the 19 year old.

    Many of the articles I’ve seen about this incident mention the potential for the death penalty in this case. Some clarify that only the older suspect is eligible and some do not, so I can definitely see where your confusion came from.

  58. Donna May 20, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

    “Really don’t get how you don’t think whoever shot that little boy was a monster.”

    Because people and life are far more complicated than people like to give them credit for being. I’ve dealt with murderers who are “monsters” and murderers who were actually pretty nice people that snapped briefly or panicked and still others who are mentally ill or impaired by some substance and their actions a result of that.

    “I have a lot of teenagers in my life, I know what they’re like. They know better.”

    Knowing better and doing better do not always travel together. Knowledge does not always override impulse or panic or pure stupidity.

    “Anyone at any age knows better.”

    Really? So a 4 year old should be branded a monster if he shoots someone?

  59. JTW May 21, 2017 at 1:05 am #

    “In this case, there is a correct and obvious direction to lay blame: the monsters who stole a car and, much more egregiously, murdered a child”

    Of course not, they were clearly law abiding citizens until the moment they got the unstoppable urge to steal a car and kill a child because that evil mother left it there with the child inside.

    You know how the world works nowadays…

  60. JTW May 21, 2017 at 1:10 am #

    “Really? So a 4 year old should be branded a monster if he shoots someone?”

    If he does it deliberately rather than as an accident playing with a loaded gun, yes.
    And if it was an accident, something’s seriously wrong in that household causing a child to have access to a loaded gun.

  61. hineata May 21, 2017 at 1:42 am #

    Thank you Donna, for the clarification on the legal issues. Thank you too for saying what I was thinking better than I did.

    Life IS complicated, and teens are seldom ‘monsters’. Monstrous behaviour, yes. Monsters, no. I would prefer to see these teens turn their lives around and achieve some good. I feel it would be a far better memorial for this poor child. That is highly unlikely to occur if they never get out of prison.

  62. Donna May 21, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    “If he does it deliberately rather than as an accident playing with a loaded gun, yes.”

    So you would call a monster a 4 year old who by definition due to his young age has very very limited understanding as to what it means to kill or be dead? There is a huge gulf between being able to state that killing someone is bad understanding WHY killing someone is bad and a 4 year old would be developmentally nowhere near bridging that gulf. And all that is before you even get into issues involving impulsivity, self- control and empathy, none of which would be anywhere near fully developed at 4.

  63. MichelleB May 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

    “So you would call a monster a 4 year old who by definition due to his young age has very very limited understanding as to what it means to kill or be dead?”

    When I was in my early teens (probably around 1981), the eight year old neighbor boy shot his four your old brother in the chest with a shotgun. They were at the mom’s boyfriend’s house and supposedly the gun got knocked over. I have no way of knowing what actually happened, but in the months he lived next door to us we never saw that kid without a toy gun of some kind in his hands. There was a lot of speculation about what actually happened and how…and a lot of people did call the older brother a monster. I don’t know what ever happened to him. They moved out of the grandfather’s house almost immediately. I hope he got help or counseling or something, even if it was a complete and total accident. Maybe he -wasn’t- a monster. He seemed to be one even before his brother’s death, but maybe he was just a rough and tumble little boy who never meant anyone any harm. Monster or not, I can’t imagine an eight year old having to grow up with that in his past.

    The teens involved in the Kroger incident? Right now, I’d call them monsters. Maybe years in the future they’ll have turned their lives around, but that hasn’t happened yet. Right now they’re murdering car thieves.

  64. Nicole R. May 22, 2017 at 10:20 am #

    “Because people and life are far more complicated than people like to give them credit for being. I’ve dealt with murderers who are “monsters” and murderers who were actually pretty nice people that snapped briefly or panicked and still others who are mentally ill or impaired by some substance and their actions a result of that.”

    So they may not be “monsters” at heart, and I may feel sympathy for a mentally ill or substance-impaired person that I wouldn’t for a calculating murderer…but my sympathy doesn’t make them any less dangerous. I would still want them locked up where they couldn’t do it again.

    I think the point everyone is trying to make is simply that this crime is the fault of the criminals, not of the victims.

  65. John B. May 22, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    “If he does it deliberately rather than as an accident playing with a loaded gun, yes.”

    I would definitely say NO. A 4-year-old does not understand death, let alone the permanency of it. Now a 10-year-old? Perhaps, but not a 4-year-old.

  66. Donna May 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    “So they may not be “monsters” at heart, and I may feel sympathy for a mentally ill or substance-impaired person that I wouldn’t for a calculating murderer…but my sympathy doesn’t make them any less dangerous.”

    Very few murders are calculated. Most are spur of the moment reactions to some situation or are other crimes gone awry. I highly doubt that THIS murder was calculated. They most likely did not seek out a car with a kid in it so that they could kill a kid. They stole the car because they wanted the car. The child and the murder were unanticipated at the onset and not the goal.

    “I would still want them locked up where they couldn’t do it again.”

    Murder actually has the lowest recidivism rate of any other crime. The reasons for this are many but one is the first sentence I wrote – very few murders are calculated. Since murder was not something they set out to do to start with, the odds of them replicating it are low.

    “I think the point everyone is trying to make is simply that this crime is the fault of the criminals, not of the victims.”

    That is absolutely true. However, it is possible to both blame the criminals 100% for the crime and not believe that they are definitely irredeemable monsters who need to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives.