JIM JONES column | Palmetto nightmare no figment of imagination

September 18, 2011 

It seemed like a typo.

Two dead and 22 wounded in a mass shooting at a Palmetto night club on Sept. 10.

That’s what the press release from the Palmetto Police Department said the next morning.

We said those numbers aloud as we began working on the story. It sounded like very bad fiction.

That couldn’t really happen in Palmetto, or anywhere else in Manatee County. Could it?

We had all been on alert for any kind of terrorism on the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Washington, D.C. or New York City were the most likely targets, the experts said.

Fortunately, foreign terrorists were unable to pull off any kind of attack in the United States.

But we had this senseless tragedy in Palmetto.

There are still many unanswered questions about what happened in Palmetto just after midnight.

It’s now believed that there were two gunmen firing assault rifles into a crowd of people outside Club Elite.

The recklessness of the attack was breath-taking. The disregard for human life was appalling.

Do you suppose there is any remorse on the part of the shooters?

As of this writing, there have been no arrests.

Instead of witnesses clamoring to tell investigators what they knew, police were met with deafening silence.

Understandable maybe, given the example of how innocent bystanders had just been cut down in public.

But it was profoundly sad and regrettable.

As the week ended, it seemed maybe police were getting more and better clues.

Concerned clergy, local government leaders, and others were beginning to grapple with the problem of violence in the community.

Much remains to be done to get the guns off the street, and put the criminals where they belong.

Consider this: among the Bradenton Herald’s obituaries in Thursday’s edition were four homicide victims.

They were Trayon Goff and Gwenette Matthews, both of whom died in the Club Elite shootings; James Earl Collins; and Richard Coney.

It makes me wonder how we got to the point that guns with so much firepower are on our streets.

It didn’t use to be that way.

I remember having an AK-47 in Vietnam. I would have liked to have brought the souvenir home, but Uncle Sam wouldn’t let me. Not even if the thing had been welded shut so that it could never be fired again.

I understood the reasons I wasn’t allowed to bring an AK-47 home. I agreed with them.

What doesn’t compute is how criminals are running around now with AK-47s on our streets and using them.

Two dead and 22 wounded in a mass shooting in Palmetto. It still sounds like a typo.

I wish it were.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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