A shooting in Fort Smith, Arkansas that left an elderly woman dead could have had many more victims, according to neighbors, if an armed citizen hadn’t stepped up and put down the killer on Saturday morning.
Police say that 87-year old Lois Hicks was shot and killed in her apartment by 26-year old Zachary Arnold, who then continued to fire rounds from a rifle at other apartments in the complex on the city’s south side, targeting other residents.
Neighbors who witnessed the shooting say Arnold was trying to persuade people to come outside of their apartment buildings.
“He was yelling and screaming, “You guys get out here, come out here, everyone get out of this building right now,” says Janey Peugh, a resident of the apartment complex.
Another resident, Amber Lane, says Lois Hicks and Arnold live in the same building. She says Hicks and another neighbor went outside to console Arnold, but when they saw the gun, they ran back inside their apartments.
“There were two older women, both had come out. One of them had ran back in, and the other one ran back in, but she didn’t close her door, then he walked in and did what he did,” says Lane.
Neighbors say Arnold could open fire on anyone in the apartment building, so they took cover while he continued to shoot into the residences. Some say they are grateful for the one neighbor who stepped in and put an end to the shooting.
“If he didn’t do that, who knows how much worse it could have gotten,” says Lane.
That neighbor who “put an end to the shooting” apparently grabbed a rifle of his own and fatally shot Arnold, though police haven’t released many details of the incident. While we don’t yet know what motivated Arnold to kill his elderly neighbor, it’s clear that, as resident Amber Lane told local media, there could have been many more victims were it not for the quick response by the armed citizen.
Don’t expect the national media to give this story the same type of wall-to-wall coverage it gives to shooting incidents with higher body counts. The Washington Post and New York Times won’t be editorializing about the need for more armed citizens, like they regularly opine about the need for more gun control after high profile shooting incidents. Instead, this story will be quickly forgotten by the media. Heck, I can’t find any mention whatsoever of this attack in the local paper, though a couple of the Fort Smith television stations had coverage of the shooting over the weekend.
The lack of coverage highlights a serious problem within the news media. When evil individuals successfully carry out their murderous plans, the press is eager to spread the news far and wide. When a good guy with a gun puts a stop to an attack, however, the story is relegated to a brief mention on the local news. If we’re lucky a national outlet like ABC News will post a story online, while ignoring the story completely on its actual broadcasts.
While the media may not be eager to report on defensive gun uses that save numerous lives, you can be sure that the armed citizen is a hero to those in the apartment complex who could have been the killer’s next target. People are alive today because someone had the opportunity and the means to stop this attack before Arnold could murder any more of his neighbors, even if the journalists in our midst are loathe to acknowledge that fact.