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Suspect in Colorado shootings a man without a conscience

The motives behind the actions Friday of alleged Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes may never be known or understood. He is allegedly the person responsible for the deaths of 12 people and the wounding or injuring of dozens more.

Most of us would find it literally impossible to gird ourselves in body armor and walk into a crowded public place with the intention to shoot as many of our brothers and sisters as possible.

The shooter did not single out any of his victims, at least as far as we know to date. It was not an assassination where the gunman was on a mission to take out a specific target. We will always wonder how someone could slide so far over the edge to demonstrate such a lack of basic respect for human life.

Humans are equipped with a conscience; an inner voice that intervenes often when a difficult choice stands before us. That is what separates us from the birds of the air and the beasts of the fields.

Was he so disturbed that he never marveled at a blazing summer sunset, or felt an emotional connection to a beautiful piece of classical music? I bet Jessica Ghawi did.

Didn’t he ever jump for joy when he received the exact gift he wanted the most for his birthday or another special event? I bet John Larimer did.

Didn’t he ever wonder what it would be like to travel into space, drive a sports car, sail around the world, climb the highest mountain or mingle

amongst the oldest civilizations on Earth? I bet Alexander Boik did.

Wasn’t he ever elated to hear a friend or relative or neighbor had recovered from a serious illness? Wasn’t he ever thrilled to receive a passing grade on a particularly difficult test? I bet Jesse Childress was.

Wasn’t he ever relieved that a bad situation that he was hoping to avoid passed right by him? Didn’t he ever feel like he had been spared somehow from dealing with a serious calamity through some kind of divine intervention? I bet Jonathan Blunk did.

Didn’t he ever admire the magnificent artistry of Michelangelo, the brilliance of Albert Einstein, the courage of Helen Keller, the dedication of Mother Theresa, the potential of Anne Frank, the leadership of Dr. Martin

Luther King or the bravery of the passengers aboard Flight 93 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001? I bet Rebecca Wingo did.

Didn’t he ever voluntarily help someone in a tight spot? Didn’t he ever stand up like a man and defend someone being bullied or embarrassed? Didn’t he ever feel thankful for a cool breeze on a summer night or a brilliant sunrise on a cold winter morning? Didn’t he ever hike through a lush green forest or along a fresh, clear stream? I bet Alex Sullivan did.

When he stumbled as a toddler, fell off his bicycle, tripped on the stairs or accidentally broke a window, didn’t he have a compassionate mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or nephew to comfort and console him? I bet Gordon Cowden did.

Didn’t he feel good when an older person or someone needing assistance smiled and said “thank you” when he held open a door for him or her? I bet Micayla Medek did.

Didn’t he enjoy sampling new cuisine, visiting a new city, starting a new job or meeting a new friend? I bet Alexander Teves did.

Didn’t he look forward to paid holidays, income tax refunds, sleeping in, vacations and free samples at the supermarket? I bet Matthew McQuinn did.

Wasn’t he moved when holding a newborn baby and recalling the words from Scripture, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh?” Veronica Moser-Sullivan might have been. But then again, she was only 6 years old.

(David F. Sherman a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of approximately 75,000 homes. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at

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