COLUMN: It takes just one person to do the right thing

Someone is going to get killed in the absurd street war in west Abbotsford known as the 'Townline Hill conflict'

On Point by Andrew Holota

Someone is going to get killed in the absurd street war in west Abbotsford known as the “Townline Hill conflict.”

Correct that – there’s already been one death.

By “someone,” I mean a completely innocent bystander out for a walk, or playing outside, or simply being inside a home.

With bullets now flying every few weeks, it’s only a matter of time before one of those rounds connects with an unintended target.

The second shooting in less than two weeks occurred Monday night on Sandpiper Drive. A 23-year-old guy was found in hospital with a bullet wound in his leg. He is “known” to police, and not in a good way, which would suggest he was supposed to get hit.

But in what has become the ridiculous standard in this situation, he is refusing to co-operate with investigators.

This outrageous running battle ostensibly started from petty crap between a bunch of over-testosteroned young men.

Somehow that escalated to drugs and gangs and turf, and a level of umbrage that apparently justifies shooting at each other – in heavily populated neighbourhoods, and on public roads, and beside parks and schools, for god’s sake.

I’m going to make an educated guess that these thugs are mostly using handguns to bang away at each other.

For those who haven’t ever had the opportunity, or inclination, it’s easy to hold and fire a handgun. However, hitting what you are theoretically aiming at is entirely another matter.

Many years ago, in the development of a possible policing career, I went through standard police firearms training and regular practice.

Believe me when I say it takes literally hundreds, even thousands, of rounds to establish reasonable, consistent accuracy with a handgun. And that’s on a range, in relaxed, controlled conditions.

Now add in a combination of accuracy- eroding factors, such as adrenalin, stress, the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, dark lighting conditions and, especially, sitting in a moving car, shooting at a moving target.

The odds of one, or likely most, of those rounds going somewhere other than where they were intended is almost guaranteed.

And there are a great many more targets around and beyond the guy or car that’s supposed to get shot.

People. Houses. Other vehicles. People in houses. People in other vehicles.

A typical handgun round travels at more than 1,000 feet per second. Depending on the distance and construction, a jacketed bullet can tear through a car door or the wall of a home.

It then carries on to tear through human flesh.

It’s actually a small miracle that we haven’t had to report (yet) that someone has been shot dead in their west Abbotsford living room while watching television or eating dinner or sleeping.

Police are doing what they can, as limited as they are by the law. I imagine they have a very good idea of who’s involved in the Townline Hill melee. But without direct evidence that can be used to get a conviction in court, police can’t simply pick up individuals and throw them in a cell. Pity about that…

The wanna-be gang-bangers know who is involved, of course. So do friends, and brothers and sisters, and quite possibly, some parents. But no one is talking.

It takes just one of them to do the right thing, and start the beginning of the end of this stupidity.

So far, no one has had the courage.

We’re all waiting for that someone … whoever you are.

You’ll probably save a life.

And if it’s all you care about, that life might even be your own.

Andrew Holota is the editor of The Abbotsford News.

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