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Local opinion columnists

Pick your friends wisely

By From page A10 | September 06, 2012

This week a person in a gold SUV shot at three people walking on East Pacific Avenue, wounding one person.

One of the most shocking things about drive-by shootings in town is that they do not shock us anymore. Growing up in Fairfield, one of the things I never had to worry about was slow-moving cars rolling up alongside me and the passenger opening fire.

When I was a kid, it was nothing to ride my bike from my house on Davis Drive to friends who lived near the Suisun marina or friends who lived off of North Texas Street. My friends and I would take the DART bus to the library or to the mall. Walking up to the Short Stop on Walters Road or EZ-Mart on East Tabor Avenue wasn’t a hazardous thing to do.

Then, in 1984 when Stanley Verketis shot and killed Fairfield police officer Arthur Koch, it rocked the community. Shootings were just unheard of back then.

Fairfield is now a different place. I can’t imagine parents giving their kids the leeway I once enjoyed. One has to be mindful of the potential for random violence. Gangs are much more of a threat than they ever were in my youth.

It’s the brazenness of this latest attack that is so disturbing. It was a shooting in broad daylight in an area where there could be many witnesses. The perpetrator didn’t care.

The thing that intrigued me was reports that the car was described as being full of males. I don’t understand what those other guys in the car were thinking, putting their futures in the hands of someone with a gun. Apparently there was one shooter, but if that one shooter had killed someone, they’d all go down for murder.

This month is the four-year anniversary of Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia’s murder. While it was Henry Williams who actually pulled the trigger and killed Matt, his accomplice, Gene Allen Combs, is a guest of the California Department of Corrections right now for murder. You don’t have to be the shooter to catch a case.

This is one of the things that Matt used to tell young people. There were times in his life that he could have gone along with gang members that he knew. Had he done that, he would’ve just been another one of these lost kids that you read about wreaking havoc on the streets instead of the transformational figure that he became in life and in death.

I don’t know the circumstances of the people in that gold SUV. I do know how quickly one’s life can change if you make a stupid decision and roll with people who are up to no good. There are so many jail cells holding people who went along with the wrong crowd.

That’s why it’s so important for parents to know who their kids’ friends are. It’s up to parents to know where their kids are. And it’s up to young people to not put themselves in a position where just one person’s stupid, reckless act can have a tremendous impact on the course of their lives. All it takes is one tragic incident and life as you know it can be over. It’s not an easy thing to do, but sometimes you have to upgrade your class of friends.

You have to know when to say no to that party invite. You have to know when to not get in that car with folks who are doing dirt. Once you go along for the ride, your destination just might be a jail cell. Think. Peace.

Kelvin Wade is a writer and lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]

Kelvin Wade

Kelvin Wade


Discussion | 2 comments

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  • ScottSeptember 06, 2012 - 11:57 am

    amen. Your column should be required reading at all junior high and high schools nationwide. peace.

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  • Christine in FFSeptember 06, 2012 - 10:36 pm

    Excellent article. I try and instill that in my boys on a daily basis. KNOW WHO YOU ARE WITH!!! I still know who they're with at this point~ but it scares me the older they get. As I have to let go of the rope(just a bit) more and more.

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