I was enraged when I got the news that LSU basketball player Wayde Sims had been shot to death. I said to my television: "How could something like this happen? What could be the reason? Who the hell would do this?"
I didn’t know the 20-year-old, but he was a great-looking young man. He was a basketball star. He had a future.
Then I thought about his parents. I could not imagine the depth of sorrow that Sims' parents, family and friends were experiencing at that time. Their lives would never be the same. You want to cry for them.
Sims didn’t resemble the kind of person who would be in the line of fire of the random violence that grips part of Baton Rouge. He didn’t look like the usual suspects we see in media accounts.
Sims had so much going for him. He looked to be from a middle-to-upper middle-class family. He was a college student in good standing. He looked like so many other children that I and most people like me feel comfortable with.
It appeared he was from the right Zip code, not one where we see the covered dead bodies on the ground highlighted by television cameras and newspaper photos. Sims didn’t fit.
Social media lit up that night with quotes of shock, sorrow and outrage. No doubt the victim and the senselessness of his killing struck a segment of society that usually didn’t suffer this kind of crazy violence.
I began writing a statement to place on Facebook to vent my immediate feelings. About 10 words into the statement, I stopped. Wait. What was I about to do? Why?
If this gunfire had happened in one of the regular shooting galleries in Baton Rouge, I probably would have been aggravated, but shamefully, not as immediately angry as I was just moments after seeing the news of Sims’ death.
Too many of us don’t give enough consideration to those young people and others who are shot and killed for senseless reasons around the city.
Too often, we dismiss the killings in the lower economic areas as just “them.” We brush off the mayhem and death in their communities as just something “they” do and we, coldly, expect to happen.
I have written columns and news stories recently and long ago about the horrible killings in the poor and minority communities. I have been overwhelmed many times by the grief that they have felt after violence that most of us barely give a nod of acknowledgment, if anything.
For a few minutes after Sims’ death, I had to question why my feelings are not bruised every time anyone is killed senselessly in our community. I hope I am not the only one who felt like that.
Even as I write this column, I am still ashamed of myself because my strong, emotional response in this case did not mirror the deaths in the expected neighborhoods of violence.
This tragedy should help Baton Rouge understand that violence is not stationary. It can touch us all, no matter the Zip code or economic background. There are families that are just as heartbroken as we are about Sims.
I am also interested in why the accused killer, 20-year-old Dyteon Simpson, would feel the need to walk around with a gun, let alone want to shoot someone during a fist fight. What makes someone want to do that?
All of us have to care about the well-being of all of us. I have to do better.
I'll mention a quote by philosopher Debasish Mridha: “Pain does not differentiate between rich and poor or Christian and Buddhist. It brings the same feelings to everyone.”
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at email@example.com.