Suffolk at a crossroads

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We all were shocked. We all are mourning. We are all upset and angry. And we hope we conveyed those emotions in Tuesday’s edition of the Suffolk News-Herald.

Tuesday’s front page carried with it a simple but powerful headline proclaiming the senseless murder of a young man, a young man preparing for his senior year in high school.

The front page offered a timeline of the events that led to his death and the capture of the suspected shooter. It detailed how his friends, family and teammates were trying to deal with the tragic loss and how they planned to honor his life through future actions.

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But what the front page also showed, through its dominant headline, is that Suffolk remains a city where a murder remains a horrible and unacceptable event. In other cities, even neighboring cities, such an event might not have made it onto the front page, not because it wasn’t big news, but because it happens far too often.

In Suffolk, a thoughtless, inane act such as murder still shakes us to our core. It remains an event so infrequent that we as a community mourn with the family. We share in their loss.

Suffolk is a city at a crossroads in its development. On one hand, the city works feverishly to attract new residents, new businesses and new industry. On the other, it hungers to keep some of its hometown appeal for those very families that move from larger cities to the place where peanuts were once king.

On one hand, our police must watch out for traffic problems caused by combines and tractors heading down the road, while at the same time creating tactical units to battle violent, gang-related crime.

The facts surrounding the shooting and killing of Tyquan Lewis will find their way into the public during the coming months as the judicial system takes over. The suspect, Dontaz Wilkerson, will be afforded his day in court and, if found guilty, will answer for his actions.

It is not up to each of us to try the case, speculate on facts we do not know or sensationalize what we’ve heard or believe to be true. That is for the police to investigate and the courts to decide.

What is up to us is how we remember Tyquan, how we honor his life and how we work every day to ensure such an event never happens again and that Suffolk remains a place where we are shocked at such news and a place where crime never becomes something we get used to.