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I Believe

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Shots fired. Instant adrenaline as the lights and sirens are turned on and I begin my high speed run through traffic. Not much information is given except that a male shot off a semi-automatic handgun, just missing his brothers head. As I drove to the area, dispatch advised officers that the suspect had just left in a white vehicle.

I heard one of the officers advise that he observed the suspect vehicle at a nearby park. I responded to the park and we conducted a felony stop on the vehicle (felony stop- high risk stop where at least two officers order the occupants out at gunpoint) and removed the suspect. I observed that the young male suspect was cooperative and complacent. He went into the patrol car without incident.

I began to speak with the suspect as I always do so that I can build a rapport with them. After I read him his constitutional rights I asked him if he wanted to speak with me. He said that he would, because it didn't matter, his life was over. The male was extremely despondent and only repeated that his life was over. I transported him to the Police department where I interviewed him.

The male said that he was upset because his mother hated him. I told him that his mother didn't hate him, but he kept on reiterating that she hated him. The male said that he had made mistakes in his life and got into some drugs when he was in high school. He got his life back together and went on to get his GED, but his mother always put him down for the mistakes that he made and would not let him forget it.

The male said that his mother loved his younger brother who could do no wrong. His younger brother was graduating from high school and his mother bought him a brand new Toyota pick-up truck. His younger brother wanted to invite his father to the graduation, but his mother would hate him for it because his father had left his mom for another woman and moved to Alaska. His younger brother and father hatched a plan and they told each other that they would blame the invitation on the older brother because his mother hated him anyway. That is what they did.

His mother then told the suspect that she didn't want to see him again and that she hated him because she was told that he was the one who invited the dad to the graduation. The suspect tried to tell her that he never invited his father to the graduation, but the younger brother kept lying and told his mother that it wasn't his idea and that his brother did the inviting. The suspect went to his friend’s house and grabbed a handgun to try and get his brother to tell the truth. He wasn't going to hurt him, but just threaten him enough to get him to tell the truth. When he came to the house, the suspect pointed the handgun at his brother, but his brother grabbed the handgun. They struggled and the handgun accidentally went off, just missing the younger brother's head. The suspect grabbed the gun and left. He went to the park and thought about shooting himself, but said that he knew he couldn't do it.

I told the suspect that I would like to call his father to find out the real truth. I told him that it was outside my scope of what I needed for my case, but it was for him that I was doing it. I called his father and told him why I called. His father was extremely upset and said that it was the dumbest thing he had done in his life. He told me the truth and said that he and his younger son had lied about the older son inviting him to the graduation. I ended the conversation with him thinking what an idiot he was for doing such a stupid thing. He deserved it.

I called the suspects mother and told her the truth. She said that she didn't care because she hated that son and never wanted to see him again. One of those rare moments that I actually got surprised at.

I told the suspect that what he did was wrong. He reacted in the wrong manner and he had to think of the consequences of his actions. Then I told him that I had to do my job, but that I believed in him and that he actually had been wronged. I also said that I couldn't believe his mother’s attitude. The male was still despondent and just repeated over and over that his life was over. I eventually finished my interview of the male and booked him into jail. I felt sorry for him, but nothing I said seemed to penetrate into the hopeless, young man.

I did not hear any more of that case until several years later. I was advised by dispatch that I was requested to call someone on the phone. When I requested the nature of the complaint, I was advised that the caller wouldn't say.

I called the number and the male asked me if I remembered him. He then told me the story when he almost shot his brother in the head. I told him that I did remember him and wanted to know how he was doing now. The male said that he was great and that his life was totally changed. He said that he spent a couple of years in prison for the mistake he made, and then told me, “You know who loves you when you're down and out.” He said that his aunt and his grandmother would visit him regularly in prison, and when he got out, he was invited to live with them. He said that he now has a good job and goes to church. His mother still won't talk to him, but it was okay, he's learned to live with that.

He wanted to tell me the reason that he called me. He said that each day in prison, the one single thought that kept him going every day, was that when all others doubted him, one person in the world said that he believed in him. He said that he thought of me telling him that and promised himself, every day, that he would get out of prison, call me, and thank me. He said, “and now, I'm thanking you.” Wow, I did choke up on that one and I told him that I was proud of him for trying to do things right. He said that he had me to thank for that.

We never know when or how, but we may affect others at any time. We can touch hearts by how we react to the lives we come in contact with, most times without knowing about it. Always persevere in doing the right things for people.


About the Author


Lester L. T. Letoto, Everett Police Department, Washington (ret.) is a 27 year veteran of law enforcement.  He can be contact via the website publisher.

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