True Tragedy is Banal

Here’s a crime blurb from WGCL that’s just a few paragraphs but that has an entire novel’s worth of tragedy and human frailty condensed into it. Let’s take it apart, a few paragraphs at a time:


Rochelle Jones said she can’t believe her neighbor, Robert Moore, is gone.

“He was a good person, an innocent person is gone,” said Jones Friday.

The 52-year-old husband and father of four was killed around midnight, when a bullet flew through the wall of his apartment and hit him in the head. The apartment is at a complex on the 2600 block of Roosevelt Highway.

College Park is a crime-ridden inner-ring suburb of Atlanta. Robert Moore was minding his own business in his own apartment, when something that crime novels and shows don’t usually address happened. Most people, because of crime shows, video games and basic ignorance, seem to think that a bullet disappears if it misses its intended target or something immediately beside or behind it. But of course bullets are ballistic, and travel very fast, more than fast enough to penetrate walls, car doors, etc. You think you’re safe in your apartment, but cheap apartments on Roosevelt Highway are made of plasterboard and not much else. Mr. Moore likely died before he even heard the sound of the gunshot. Even in a brick house, the bullet can come through a window. A significant number of people are hurt or killed every year by bullets fired by fools who think that once they fire a gun in the air in celebration, the bullet just disappears.

So we have four kids whose father is gone and a widowed wife who now has to figure out how to provide for them. This is enough drama for one novel, but there’s more:

Jones said she could hear the gunshots near her window.

“I ducked on the floor, told my family to get on the floor,” said Jones.

The trigger? Police said an argument started around 9 p.m. Thursday, when a group of three people playing basketball began to sit and lean on a car.

Officers said the owner of that car confronted the group and then left to run an errand. They said when he came back, the men hadn’t moved, that’s when things escalated. Moments later, shots were fired.

Only Moore was hit.

Sounds like Ms. Jones has way more experience with gunshots in the vicinity than she’d really like. Now look at the idiotic argument that killed poor Mr. Moore. It’s a special kind of violent loser who becomes upset enough to make an issue out of someone else leaning on their car. In this otherwise tightly-written piece, it’s hard to tease out that the owner of the car didn’t drive the car when they went on the errand. And of course, the kind of people who engage in this kind of behavior shoot about as accurately as stormtroopers, so whereas one of them dying might have been tragic to their families, the innocent Mr. Moore was the only casualty here, which makes the tragedy much worse precisely because it’s so banal.

But here’s where it gets so much worse:

Moore was only living in the apartment temporarily after a fire destroyed his family’s home in late April.

“He used to come and give me stuff every day, him and his wife. They said when they first moved out, they said, ‘I can see you’re a very good person,'” said Jones.

We have no backstory for the fire, but really, we don’t need one. Their home is gone, they have to live in the kind of apartments full of idiots who pull out guns when people sit on cars, and maybe because they come from a better place, they don’t have Ms. Jones’ reflexes when it comes to gunfire. Writing stories about deliberate murder can be difficult, because you have to get into the mind of someone who would deliberately kill someone else; but this? This is real human tragedy. Let’s all think good thoughts about the Moore family and hope that they survive the tragic and completely preventable death of their father.

College Park police told CBS46 an arrest has been made. Felerix Cofer, 44, the owner of the car, was charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

I didn’t even know it was possible to illegally possess a firearm in Georgia, where now we’re about to allow college kids to conceal-carry on campus. Let’s hope they eventually trace the bullet to Cofer’s gun and charge him with second-degree murder, which this is; but the level of human tragedy in this story would almost certainly imply that one of the other people fired the fatal bullet, and has since disposed of that gun. And it’s not as if this would bring Mr. Moore back, or as if any of these people have the money to settle a lawsuit.