Why are they always known wolves?

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Why are these mass murderers so often what they call “known wolves?” Perpetrators who were known to law enforcement before they explode into horrific violence?

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The short answer is I’m not sure, but the longer answer is that there is something deeply wrong with law enforcement in this country.

Authorities said the person who would later kill five at a Colorado gay nightclub was on the FBI’s radar a day before being arrested for threatening to kill family members but agents closed out the case just weeks later.

The disclosure by the FBI to The Associated Press creates a new timeline for when law enforcement was first alerted to Anderson Lee Aldrich as a potential danger. Previously it was thought Aldrich only became known to authorities after making the threat on June 18, 2021.

That day, Aldrich’s grandparents ran from their Colorado Springs home and called 911, saying Aldrich was building a bomb in the basement and had threatened to kill them. Details of the case remain sealed, but an arrest affidavit verified by the AP detailed how Aldrich was upset the grandparents were moving to Florida because it would get in the way of Aldrich’s plans to conduct a mass shooting and bombing.

For God’s sake, make it stop!
Time and again we are bombarded by calls for so-called “Red Flag Laws” that are supposed to prevent just this sort of occurrence. The idea behind those laws is to allow the government to prevent violent or psychotic individuals from obtaining weapons, yet we keep getting bombarded by stories of people known to law enforcement being allowed to go on their merry way and eventually become mass murderers.
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If even law enforcement won’t do its job protecting the public, why is anybody supposed to believe that Red Flag laws will do anything other than empower individuals with a grudge to harass somebody they don’t like? If a guy can threaten to blow up his grandparents and face no consequences, clearly something is terribly broken.

Colorado, by the way, does have a Red Flag law.

The Colorado Red Flag law is a recently signed law that gives a judge the power to suspend the rights of gun ownership of someone who may be a danger to himself or to others.

The petition must come from either police officers or civilians. A judge, after receiving the petition, will review the case and may give the power to the police to seize their guns.

Aldrich was well known to the police. He had been arrested with kidnapping and felony menacing. Not only was no case brought against him, but no “Red Flag” either. He had exactly the same access to guns as a normal, law abiding citizen rather than a crazed soon-to-be spree killer. Police and prosecutors just shrugged after he was arrested.

Clearly the problem is not the existence or lack thereof of Red Flag laws, but tolerance for violent crazy people. And we have ample evidence that being crazy and violent are A-OK for the powers-that-be, including apparently the FBI.

As part of the FBI’s probe, the agency said it coordinated with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which had responded to the June 18, 2021, call from Aldrich’s grandparents and arrested Aldrich, now 22, on felony menacing and kidnapping charges. But about a month after getting the tip, the FBI closed its assessment of Aldrich, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.

“With state charges pending, the FBI closed its assessment on July 15, 2021,” the FBI said.

Those charges were later dropped for unknown reasons.

How comforting. Literally everybody dropped the ball on this one.

But this is hardly the only case of law enforcement dropping the ball. It has become a recurring theme of late.

There have been several high-profile examples of the FBI having received information about a gunman before a mass shooting. A month before Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at a Florida high school, the bureau received a warning that he had been talking about committing a mass shooting. A man who massacred 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016 and another who set off bombs in the streets of New York City the same year had each been looked at by federal agents but officials later determined they did not warrant continued law enforcement scrutiny.

Obviously there are civil liberty reasons not to keep every person who ever gets investigated by law enforcement under surveillance, but just as obviously there is something troubling about mass murderers slipping through the cracks like this.

Even smaller-time criminals are almost always people known to the police. The actual population of regular criminals is not nearly as large as you would imagine. Many have been arrested multiple times, yet they seem to get off with regularity. There are plenty of criminals with dozens of felonies.

America is not known for under-incarcerating people; we have one of the largest prisoner populations in the world. But we are also apparently not any good at incarcerating the people who most need to be. About half of all prisoners are there due to drug charges–although it is difficult to know exactly how many among those had other charges that could have been brought but were dropped. Maybe we need to reprioritize? I don’t know, but I do know that what we are doing isn’t working well enough.

Still, about 25% of the world’s prison population is in America, but somehow we seem not able to keep the predators segregated from the prey. We need to do better.

Unfortunately, we seem to be going in the wrong direction. Crime is spiking, not plummeting, and that has everything to do with a Leftward lurch in the prosecutorial and political class. Cops aren’t the problem here.

It is that Leftward lurch we need to rectify, not change gun laws. We need to put criminals in jail–and focus on the right ones. Clearly we are failing at that.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 24, 2024
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