Exit 226. This kind of thing doesn’t happen here.

Last Thursday night (January 10, 2019), Natalie Corona, a police officer in Davis, was shot while investigating a routine car accident.  A bystander rode by on a bicycle, shot the officer from behind, and began firing indiscriminately in multiple directions. Eventually, the suspect was found in his home, about a block away from the accident, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

This tragedy hit a little close to home for me… literally, because it happened just 30 miles from my house.  Not only that, but as I have said multiple times, I lived in Davis for seven years (1994-2001). I still have friends who live there, and I go back fairly often to see some of them and also for football and basketball games at the university.  I feel more connected to the community than many people who just moved there for school, because I volunteered with a church youth group for over half of the time that I lived there. And I’m going to be meeting a friend for lunch in Davis later today, in fact, for reasons unrelated to Officer Corona’s death.

Since this happened, I haven’t talked to any of my Davis friends (other than finalizing today’s lunch plans), but from what I remember about Davis residents, and from a few Facebook and Instagram posts I’ve read, the community seems pretty shocked by this, as I would expect.  There is a culture among long-time Davis residents that this kind of thing doesn’t happen here in this quiet little town. I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong with this kind of thinking. Typically, Davis does not have much crime beyond drunken college shenanigans, and people aren’t used to this kind of thing happening there.

I started writing this about 24 hours before I published it, and two important details worth noting have emerged in that time.  Investigators found a suicide note indicating a motive, in which the suspect said that he believed that he was sensitive to the ultrasonic devices used by police to stop dogs from barking, that no one took his complaints seriously, and that he could not continue living because of that.  The suspect had shown no outward signs of mental illness before this, although he did have a recent misdemeanor conviction from getting in a fight with a coworker. Also, a student group at UC Davis (not representing the university as a whole) released a statement trying to stir up controversy about the relationship between law enforcement and certain communities.  I’m not even going to dignify that with any more of a response than this; that might come in a later post. I don’t want to debate the role of law enforcement in a community or in a society right now. It’s not the time.

Even though people tend to think that things like that can’t happen where they are, the truth is that it can happen anywhere.  I lived in Davis during the time of the Columbine shooting in Colorado, and I remember the youth pastor at church saying that he had been to that area before and could see a lot of similarities with Davis, with so many overworked parents and disconnected and angry teens and a culture that doesn’t expect it.  This wasn’t the same kind of situation as what happened in Columbine, of course. This was the act of one adult man with misguided motives.

But one thing is clear to me from all of this: evil is everywhere, and we all need Jesus.

My prayers are with Davis and with Officer Corona’s family (they lived in a rural area in the next county to the north of where this happened), as well as with any anti-law enforcement activists who are using this tragedy to create controversy, because they have been hurt too, and they need healing.  And my prayers are with anyone who disapproves of the concept of prayers, for the same reason.

3 comments

  1. Crikey. Always scary when something happens that you don’t typically see in the area, and when it’s so close to home. What a strange suicide note, with the inclusion of how his suspected sensitive to ultrasonic devices drove him to the edge. You’re right, these things can happen anywhere. Out of the blue, for reasons or seemingly random, as heartbreaking and infuriating as it is when there’s violence and lives stolen away. xx

    1. There may be more details yet to emerge about the suspect, but yes, strange. When I read that, my first thought was that it sounds like the rantings of someone who isn’t entirely connected to reality, but everything I’m reading so far seems to say that the gunman didn’t show signs of this kind of behavior elsewhere.

      And on that topic, whenever there is some well-publicized tragedy caused by someone like that, I always feel like that could have been me had others not stepped in and showed love to me. One of my first posts on this blog, before I knew you, was about that, in response to a mass murder in 2014 in another college town in a different part of California… let me find that… https://highwaypi.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/exit-4-it-could-have-been-me/

      1. The story about Elliot brings a lot of things into focus, from the role of medications, to how differently someone’s story can go from what it could have been. And you’re right in the sense that I think a lot of people could be those we read about had life not intervened, had someone not shown support, had something not got better in their lives somehow. I guess in the current story it’ll take a while to iron out the details and see what else comes to light about him.x

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