Requiem for a senseless death

Published 11:54 pm Saturday, November 23, 2013

By Dennis Edwards

Who brings a gun to a party, and what could possibly justify firing it?

When an 18-year-old girl fell to the ground after being shot at a part in Suffolk recently, so did her love, promise and potential, and so did the hopes and dreams of her family and friends.

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Denisheya King was buried the other day. All that’s left are family members trying to make sense of it all.

I really want to be more diplomatic, but this goes beyond the realm of senseless and into that of mind-boggling stupidity.

Shouldn’t someone’s life change after this? Shouldn’t someone stop making inane decisions after this? There is no justification for it, despite whatever excuses might emerge from the neighborhood. Please don’t tell me he didn’t mean it. And for heaven’s sake, don’t say she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There should be no wrong places for teenagers having a party, no circumstances under which we accept this result.

It doesn’t matter whether the shooter meant to kill her or not. She is just as dead by accident as by design. So bring us no fatalistic philosophies based on some worn out street code. Stupid is stupid, callous is callous and murder is murder, no matter what degree we assign it.

There are no circumstances under which the Lord’s will can be used to excuse this great sin. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a forgiving God. But to paraphrase, the moral arch of His universe bends toward justice. Whoever’s responsible for this can be forgiven but not excluded from punishment.

Pursing justice will not bring back Denisheya King, but dismissing it would devalue our children’s lives in the worst way.

At a deeper level, beyond regret and with an eye toward grace there is a debt participants owe to King. If the bullet that killed her was intended for another, that other person should re-evaluate the life decisions that led to this fatal encounter, and the shooter should be clear that what happened was no accident, regardless of whether his intended target was the one who was hit.

I didn’t know Denisheya. I’ve never met her family . But I have a son who was 18 once, and reading the candid accounts of that night ignites a flame of utter rage within me.

The bottom line is simple. What does accepting and shrugging off this kind of murder say about how much we value our children? If we are willing to say, “Oh well, it must be the Lord’s will,” what stops the perpetrators next time?

We do a disservice to God by laying that kind of falsehood at His feet. All of us are responsible for our individual and collective acts of free will. This tragendy was not the will of God, it was not an accident, and it was not simply “her time.”

Denisheyas death was another in a long line of preventable tragedies that won’t end until we value our children more than the random platitudes expressed at their funerals.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and anchor, He is a 1974 graduate of Suffolk High School. Email him at