How can we stop tragic shootings?


When is being drunk, belligerent, armed with a weapon, such as a three-inch knife, seemingly irrational and possibly suicidal a death sentence?

It turned out that way for Lukus Glenn early Saturday morning when he was shot and killed by two Washington County deputies in the front yard of his parent's Tigard home. The deputies arrived at the scene with a Tigard Police officer after Glenn's mother called 9-1-1 about 3 a.m. requesting help because she felt that her son, who arrived home intoxicated, had become violently angry and was possibly suicidal.

What prompted such anger in Glenn? Maybe being told that he that he was in no condition to ride his dirt bike that was locked in a shed and should instead go to bed? Instead, he started threatening himself and others and began breaking things, including the windows of family cars and the front door to his parent's home.

What other demons were inside the Glenn boy - besides alcohol - we will never know. Lukus Glenn can't tell us. He is dead; shot within four minutes of their arrival by the deputies who his mother thought had been dispatched by 9-1-1 to help her son.

While the incident occurred in Tigard, Lake Oswego's next-door neighbor to the west, it is right to pay attention and try to learn from this horrible incident. Certainly this is a tragedy that should not be soon forgotten.

The Glenn family certainly won't. We do hope that Lukus Glenn's mother will someday accept that her call to 9-1-1 was what any parent would do. She was attempting to help her child in a time of need. Her actions should not be questioned or rationalized by anyone - certainly not as some members of the media have thoughtlessly pondered the question of 'what if she hadn't called 9-1-1?' She did. Because that's what good parents do. They try to help their children.

The community of Tigard won't easily forget either. Parents across the region also have been negatively touched by this tragedy. So have students and teachers at Tigard High School who knew Glenn. They are the lucky ones, however. There are support systems in school for students and faculty who need to grieve?

The two county deputies and Tigard officer are also marked by this tragedy. Police experts can say they acted appropriately and followed the book when they shot Glenn - first with bag rounds, which did not subdue him - and then with live ammunition as he turned to enter his parent's house. Regardless of what a Washington County District attorney investigation determines in this matter, these officers will long and tragically remember what happened early Saturday morning.

We are unwilling to say there is much good that come from tragedies such as this. Violent death should not be a lesson.

But we do hope that teenagers and young adults - many of whom think that they are already unbreakable - will stop and learn. Accidents and tragedies do happen. They can happen to you as they did Lukus Glenn.

We must be confident that a full and impartial investigation into this shooting will be completed.

But in addition, all local police agencies should immediately review their procedures in similar matters as the Lukus Glenn incident. This is but the fifth recent officer-involved shooting in the Portland area. When is use-of-force and a decision to shoot a suspect not the best alternative? If beanbags are not effective and tasers are not available, can the fire department be called upon to shoot high pressure water at a suspect so as to knock him to the ground? Should training be provided officers as to when and how to should a suspect in their extremities -the arms or legs - and not their torsos where vital organs may be hit? Are officers sufficiently trained in mediation and in negotiation skills? Do police and sheriff's agencies routinely invite outside evaluations of their crisis procedures?

We do understand that police officers are trained to protect lives, not take them. And we do not want to prompt a failure by officers to act - including the appropriate use of deadly force - that actually may cost lives.

But the circumstances involving the tragic death of Lukus Glenn should make everyone think and imagine how to best keep something like this from ever happening again.