A happy high school reunion in East Peoria turned into a nightmare the night of June 14.
A guy with a gun started it, a guy with a gun ended it, and many eyewitnesses will never be the same because of it.
Welcome to America in 2014.
The tally at the sports bar where this occurred is three people dead: the two victims, Lori Moore, 33, of Morton; her boyfriend, Lance Griffel, 36, of Peoria; the shooter, Moore’s ex-husband, Jason Moore, 40, of Creve Coeur. Two now-orphaned children are victims, too.
It’s impossible to crawl into the killer’s head, to get a sense of what he was thinking, but evidently his children were not foremost in mind. That would seem so even if this had turned out differently and he was instead sitting in jail, looking at a lengthy prison term. That’s not an issue now because of the literally dead aim of an anonymous, off-duty FBI agent.
We recognize that some will view this as a triumph of concealed carry legislation in Illinois, but that’s not really the case.
This was a professional law enforcement officer extensively trained in the use of weapons and also in the kind of tense and chaotic situations that might motivate their use.
Our aim here is not to get embroiled in another gun debate. What we really want to discuss is the kind of community and nation we want to live in and the kind of culture we tolerate that, arguably, has contributed to making such once-unthinkable violence a routine part of the contemporary landscape.
Although this was not the kind of shooting that especially alarms most Americans — mass, random slaughters planned meticulously by a deranged mind — perhaps it should be, as it’s far more common.
Are we to rest any easier about the seemingly normal guy who gets upset and whose first instinct is to grab a gun? Moore may have been going through a trying time — a divorce last year — but he had no criminal history, no orders of protection against him, no recent job loss or anything else that police have been able to determine might have set him off.
What he did have was a valid FOID card and perfectly legal, quick access to a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun.
We appreciate that trying to make sense of the senseless is an exercise in futility. Still, what compels someone to blow up everything — the lives of a former love and a virtual stranger, his own life, his children’s lives, the lives of other family members who care for him — and why does it happen so often in this country?
What kind of nation do we all want to live in? Is it one in which you can’t go to a high school reunion to catch up with old friends without fearing you could get caught in crossfire? Is it one in which everybody is wise to strap on a holster any time they leave home? Is it one in which we count three or four people dead instead of 20 and call it a victory?
“Our new reality,” one of the still-shaken eyewitnesses told Journal Star columnist Phil Luciano, “is so unreal.”
Yet, how many of these incidents has America hosted, with the nation’s leadership responding by doing nothing to address the various contributing factors?
The violence and ensuing grief we bemoan now is the violence and grief we tolerate. This time it just came home.
—GateHouse News Service