What more has to be done to give victims of crimes some sense of security that their rights to preserve their lives and property have some sanctity in the minds and eyes of our criminal law enforcement specialists? Pharmacist Jerome Erslund was accosted by two gunmen in his place of business who were obviously not making a social call. He shot one of the robbers in the head and chased the other out the door. He then came back and got a second gun and pumped five bullets into the first offender while the latter was lying on the floor unconscious. Now the robbery victim is charged with murder in the second shooting and free on $100, 000.00 bond posted by an anonymous individual.
Why was it necessary for the District Attorney to charge Erslund in this particularly blatant situation where his life was totally at risk? I sometimes wonder if officials think before they take action. There has to be some understanding and common sense in the administration of the law and it was sorely missing in this lawyer's opinion when reviewing the entire ominous scenario facing the pharmacist. What guarantee did he have that the individual on the floor couldn't pull his gun, surprise Erslund, and finish the job he had started. From a psychological standpoint how could anyone not still have fear after coming so close to being blown away from the outset and having been robbed before?
And forgive me, but the grieving mother of the youngster, and I have no doubt, she is grieving as any mother would, and any child is always someone's baby, might be asking herself why "her baby" was carrying a gun and risking the life of a reputable businessman who no doubt, has babies of his own who would be deprived of a hardworking father or perhaps grandfather. How would his death have been explained to them?
It is always tragic to see a young life wasted in any way, shape and form. Who knows what influences played a part in the activities and lifestyle of this young almost-robber and murderer? Was it violent video games, peer pressure, parental neglect or abuse, mental challenges... does it matter? Whatever mitigating circumstances would have been presented in a court of law had this young person lived to stand trial and if he was only 14, would he have been tried as an adult? Would he be back on the streets years from now exercising phase two or three of a budding criminal career?
The balance in our criminal system needs readjustment, and there has to be a line drawn on how far the tenderness of age or the tragic background of a defendant can go in obviating the need, understandable desire, and the absolute right of our citizenry to protect themselves and each other from life-threatening force. The citizen-victim should be given the slack and the leeway. And as far as I am concerned, someone accosted or made vulnerable in their domain should have carte blanche.
And the ironic part is that Erslund cannot have weapons on his person in his drug store where he is now probably more vulnerable and subject to attack then he was that fateful night.
There has to be a better way!
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