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The end of the ‘good old days’ in Selma

The good old days are gone, maybe forever.

It wasn’t so long ago that people across the south often picked up hitchhikers, went to sleep at night with their doors unlocked and left their vehicle running while they dropped by an office or the store.

The days of being polite and picking up hitchhikers seem to be over.

The times have changed all across the country from New York to Los Angeles to our home in Selma, Alabama.

According to a report in Friday’s STJ, Selma resident John Young picked up a hitchhiker. Young was using a telephone outside a local establishment when David Keonne Hunter allegedly approached him and asked for a ride.

Hunter and Young then got into the vehicle and that’s when Hunter allegedly pulled a gun.

The two drove into downtown Selma and at some point Young tried to escape. During his attempted flight, he was shot four times. Young was also robbed in the attack.

Fortunately, he survived after being treated at Vaughan Regional Medical Center and then Birmingham Intensive Care Unit.

What makes this story worse is Hunter was out on bond awaiting trial for two charges of first-degree assault in connection with the shooting of two other men on Church Hill Avenue and High Street in July of 2003.

Two troubling facts stand out. First, the alleged gunman was only 19 years old.

The young people around this nation have to be taught to respect the sanctity of life. People blame rap music, living in poverty, abused childhood and many other factors for the rising violence of America’s youth.

But whatever the cause, there is not an acceptable excuse for attempting to take a life.

The punishment for doing so should match the severity of the crime.

The second problem is the fact that the alleged shooter was out on bond awaiting trial for two other shootings. How many times have we heard of stories similar to this?

Now it has happened in our hometown and touched people’s lives that you may know.

Maybe if the courts were stricter on their bond structures this could have been thwarted.

Would higher penalties for crimes involving attempts to take another human beings life help? Maybe the system could put those on trial for crimes of this nature on home arrest until they are cleared.

These are just a few suggestions. It’s a complex problem that can’t be fixed by a few words in an editorial. We as tax payers and residents of Selma and Dallas County should ask our political leaders and those that protect us to put forth an effort to prevent alleged violent criminals from roaming our streets.

Until our streets are safer from this type of crime, lock your doors, don’t pick up hitchhikers and beware of strangers.

The risks are just too great.