Reflections on Killing from a Cold-Blooded Killer

May 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Evil Tribune, Lowell, Lowell Sun, MBTA | 3 Comments
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Tavaryna Choeun, Lowell Sun, 05.15.09

UPDATE: For local readers, there will be an anti-violence rally thingie in response to this tragedy at Lowell City Hall on Tuesday, May 19 at 5 PM. Additional details are available here, and more pensive reflections than mine can be found here.

This morning while walking along the Suffolk Street canal – my regular route to the train station – I noticed a mound of flowers and candles along the sidewalk across the street, outside of the row of public housing.  I figured someone had died in a car accident or something, as it’s not that uncommon to see such displays with paper-mache crosses or hand-made signs.

Then I noticed a couple trash bins filled with used police tape.  This was not unusual either.  In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything ‘unusual’ while walking along Lowell’s canals.  Their waters and banks are clogged and littered with condoms, shopping carts, televisions, toys, weapons of mass destruction, etc.  I would not be surprised to stumble upon the $850 camera that I left in a New Orleans taxicab five years go.

At the train station, I got my paper and immediately noted something that did strike me as odd – the mere size of the headline font.  Such bold block letters are generally reserved for grave, unexpected, or historic national events.  And occassionally, a local story will also rise to that level.  Sadly, this was the case.

I generally wait until I get on the train to read anything, but the headline read “CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE,” and it showed a photo of the sidewalk that I’d just travelled*, with an inset headshot of Tavaryna Choeun, 17, who the caption said “died yesterday morning at Lahey Clinic in Burlington.”  I walked slowly while I read, careful not to fall down the stairs to the platform, growing sadder and more stunned with each paragraph from Dennis Shaughnnessey’s report.

The bullet that would kill Tavaryna Choeun was intended for someone else, officials said yesterday.

The 17-year-old girl was shot in the head as she sat in the passenger seat of a car in Lowell’s Acre neighborhood late Tuesday night, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone. The shooter was aiming for the driver, he said.

Choeun was left at the side of Suffolk Street, less than a mile from where the shooting took place near the intersection of Cross and Willie Streets. She died early yesterday morning.”

This is some bullshit!  What the fuck is going on???

Suffolk Street photo by Jon Hill, Lowell Sun, 05.15.09

I’m not ignorant to the fact that violent crime is nothing new in Lowell.  On the front page of today’s Local section, a headline reads “Shooting suspect arrested in Billerica.”  This charmer, Dennis King, shot a pregnant woman twice at her home in April.  That was literally footsteps from my front door, right next to Brother’s Pizza.

But this most recent incident is an outrage.  These are children!  And sadly, it’s hardly a surprise, because they’re everywhere, out all night in this city.  You should see them.  From the moment they can walk, they’re out on the streets, many of them barefoot, especially once the weather turns.  And when school lets out?  Good God.  It’s like an ant farm in The Acre.

And so many of these kids are really wonderful.  One of my favorite parts of living here is the neighborhood kids we’ve become friends with.  And I’m terrified for them; if something happened to little Xiomara or Christian or <GASP AND PERISH THE THOUGHT> my dearest Carmasita, my heart would shatter to such a grave extent that I’m not sure I could recover.

This is insane.  The girl’s friends didn’t even call for help!  They left her on the side of the street!  And I’m going to raise Nola Jane around this madness???

I tried not to think about anyof this on the train.  It’s important to go into the workday with a clear, positive frame of mind.  And I did successfully evict Tavaryna from my thoughts for a while, thanks to a chilling and strangely hilarious description of genital mutilation in Iraq from the FANTASTIC “Bowl of Cherries” and the beats pumping into my head from an equally FANTASTIC mix made by Lucy the Blog commenter mdub.

But as I was boarding the EZ-Ride shuttle bus, a girl in the first seat jolted upright with a look of horror and fear at the man across from her.  I was certain that the man must have drawn a gun or, perhaps, whipped out his peter for some morning commute self-pleasure time.  (Hey, we’ve all done it.)

As it turned out, the man had flung a small black insect off of his bag, and it landed on the shuttle floor right in front of me, flailing its pathetic wings and trying to figure out what had just happened.  There was nothing remotely exotic or intimidating about this creature, but the woman’s panicked expression did not subside.  Without thinking, I stuck my foot out and stepped on the fly, and then dragged its carcass for a bit to make sure it was dead.  And then, not even acknowledging the woman or the man or anything that I had done, I walked down the aisle to find a seat – the renegade loner keeping the civilians safe.

Why had I done this?  It all happened so fast.  I detected genuine fear from the woman, and I reacted in a brash, overzealous display of chivalry.  I felt so ashamed.  I feel so ashamed.

Though I’m rarely conscious of it, I am surrounded each and every day by killers and would-be killers.  And despite my resistance, they’ve made me their own. 

Needless to say, It’s been a rough morning.

*ED NOTE: When I worked at the Evil-Tribune, our editor was a wretched wench with a great ass and legs I would have sucked on like crawfish heads.  Those features withstanding, I did not care for her much.  She was a big fan of “boxes” to accompany stories.  Breakout boxes.  Every story had to have at least one.  An “If You Go” box for stories previewing special events.  A “By the Numbers” box for stories that had lots of stats.  You get the drift.  Though she took breakout box inclusion to a somewhat absurd level, the Lowell Sun could really use some boxes.

When I looked at that photo, I didn’t actually KNOW that it was the scene I’d walked by earlier.  I suspected it was, as it looked familiar.  But I wasn’t sure until I got to work and looked up the address on Mapquest.  Our fine-assed editor at the Tribune would’ve had a box with that story.  And that box would’ve had a simple map showing where the shooting happened and where the body was found.  The Lowell Sun NEVER does this with their stories.  It’s a simple little graphic, fellas.  Some of us haven’t lived here our whole lives, so hook us up.



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  1. Mmmmmmm, boxes.

  2. […] Reflections on Killing from a Cold-Blooded Killer, Lucy the Blog RELATED: For a Moment in Lowell, Equality Near Disfigurement, Lucy the Blog RELATED: […]

  3. […] dwelling on violence here at Lucy the Blog, in the wake of Tavyrna Chouen’s murder and my growing homicidal tendencies.  Last night, the face of violence, quite literally, showed up at our doorstep.  Hijinx did not […]

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