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Monthly Archives: November 2013
These words were taken from a statement issued in early November by the Animal Rights Foundation, an animal rescue organization in Ohio. They were meant to honor the group’s founder, 62-year-old Sandy Lertzman, who was found dead in her garage on November 4th.
The car had been running, which means Sandy’s death was intentional. She had committed suicide.
Some may have heard this story before—it isn’t exactly breaking news—but Sandy killed herself through apparent carbon monoxide poisoning and, as far as I know, a clear motive was never released. Police did discover some prescription medication and a suicide note, though, so more details are likely available. I didn’t research as thoroughly as I likely should have.
Of course, the mystery of Sandy’s suicide isn’t even the worst part of this tragic story. What struck me even more was the fact that she took 31 small rescue dogs with her!
That’s right. When police entered the garage, they discovered Sandy’s body along with the carcasses of dozens of slaughtered canines. Only one dog survived the massacre by jumping from the car and hiding in the back of the garage. I’m happy to say he is now resting comfortably with Sandy’s husband and son.
I have no idea what possessed this so-called “lover of animals” to destroy so many of them when she elected to take her own life, but one thing is perfectly clear: Sandy’s is not a safe haven for animals anymore!
Yesterday, people all over the nation celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with family, friends, football, food and—most important of all—fellowship. They expressed gratitude for their many blessings, broke bread together and commemorated the meal shared between pilgrims and “Indians” centuries ago—if you buy into the elementary school version of the holiday’s origins, that is. And I certainly do.
Yes, there was love among men and even the most bitter of rivals put their differences aside to give thanks for all they had. Believe me, I know since we had both Steelers and Ravens fans coexisting at my own Thanksgiving table—a phenomenon rarely seen among die-hard NFL fans.
Unfortunately, all the love and grace of Thanksgiving ended and we now find ourselves in the midst of something dark and infused with evil and despair: Black Friday.
And I, for one, do not plan on leaving the house unless it is absolutely necessary and otherwise unavoidable.
In simplest terms, “Black Friday” is the name given to the Friday after Thanksgiving, arguably the biggest shopping day of the year. It signals the official start of the Christmas shopping season and retailers cash in by offering all sorts of sales and so-called doorbusters to entice consumers to spend obscene amounts of money on crap they can probably get any time of the year. Nevertheless, people turn out in droves and—if you’ve ever experienced a Black Friday sale or waited in a line for hours for a store to open—they aren’t always the nicest or most considerate people in the world.
Sometimes they can get downright vicious, as evidenced by some of the latest Black Friday news from around our great nation. Take a look at how some people are getting into the “Christmas spirit” this year.
ILLINOIS: Two suspects outside a Kohl’s department store were chased by police after allegedly shoplifting some clothing. During the ensuing struggle, an officer was dragged by a car driven by one of the suspects, who was subsequently shot in the shoulder by the other officer. Both the suspect and cop have been hospitalized and, thankfully, their injuries were not life-threatening.
NEW JERSEY: Police were called to Walmart after a shopper got into a heated argument with a store manager over a television set. When the cops arrived, the man became more belligerent and even attacked one of the officers. Needless to say, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and for aggravated assault against a police officer. Merry Christmas, dumbass.
CALIFORNIA: Apparently, Walmart is a dangerous place to be on Black Friday because violence erupted at their Rialto location, too. At least two people were arrested after a brawl took place outside the store. It seems that people kept cutting in line, which angered other shoppers and led to the brouhaha. An officer broke his wrist during the struggle, which unfortunately didn’t end there. Several additional fights occurred within the store later. I guess that’s the price you pay for offering so many bargains, huh?
VIRGINIA: Go figure, but two men outside a Walmart store got into an argument over a parking space and, once again, the encounter ended violently. In an effort to secure a better spot, 61-year-old Ronnie Sharp pulled a gun on his nemesis, 35-year-old Christopher Jackson. When this didn’t work, Sharp brandished a knife and sliced Jackson’s arm “to the bone,” according to an eyewitness. Both men were arrested, but are now free on $5000 bond. So please watch your ass if you plan on visiting the Tazewell County Walmart anytime soon… especially if you see Ronnie Sharp!
NEVADA: A Las Vegas shopper was walking through his apartment complex—his arms filled with the big screen television he just purchased—when an unknown (and armed) suspect fired several warning shots at him. The man dropped the television and fled, but returned to find the thief loading it into a vehicle. He approached the suspect and tried to get the television back. Instead, all he got was a bullet in the leg. Fortunately he wasn’t seriously injured, but his television is long gone.
These are just a few of the Black Friday “incidents” being reported today, but others continue to pour in from the most unlikely places: Jordan Creek, Iowa; Johnson City, Tennessee; Beaumont, Texas; Elkin, NC; Garfield, New Jersey. You name it. And there will undoubtedly be more since Black Friday often drifts through the weekend.
If you do venture out today, though—choosing to risk violent confrontations in exchange for bargain basement prices—I suggest taking at least one of two things: a working knowledge of hand-to-hand, close-quarters combat techniques or—if nothing else—pepper spray.
Odds are you’re going to need them!
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
As you sit down with family and friends to celebrate this wonderful, food-filled holiday, please remember those who fear Thanksgiving more than any other day of the year: turkeys!
Yes, our delicious fall feast is the end result of the fowl massacre that precedes it. Each year, Americans raise and kill roughly 300 million “gobblers,” and more than 45 million are slaughtered for Thanksgiving.
In other words, “giving geese a chance” next year may not be the worst idea—at least where turkeys are concerned.
For now, though, I plan to gobble up some tasty turkey and to initiate the food coma that is destined to arrive later. Here’s wishing the same for you and yours!
Happy Turkey Day, folks!
Those were the grammatically challenged words that 52-year-old Adele Bing of Winter Haven, Florida used to describe the terrible tragedy that occurred at her home on Monday night—a tragedy that began to unfold earlier that same day.
Bing and her boyfriend James Lane had a volatile relationship and often fought as a result. Of course, the “heated argument” they had Monday afternoon went one step further when Bing grabbed her gun and smacked Lane over the head with it. As he stumbled out of the house—escaping what could easily have become a shooting or even a homicide, at least in my opinion—Lane and Bing exchanged the usual threats: “I’m going to come back and kill you!” “Oh yeah? Not if I kill you first!”
These obviously weren’t their exact words, but you get the picture.
Later that evening—as Bing was home doing whatever it is she does when she’s alone—someone suddenly started banging on her door. She immediately thought it was Lane coming to keep his promise, so she armed herself with a baseball bat and .22-caliber pistol, approached the door quietly, opened it and fired off a shot.
Unfortunately, the bullet never struck Lane because he wasn’t the person knocking at Bing’s door; it was her 25-year-old daughter Ruby who was, at the time, holding her 4-month old daughter.
The bullet struck Ruby in the upper chest—barely missing the baby, who escaped without injury—and she died at the scene. Witnesses saw Bing sitting on the ground, cradling her dead daughter and crying, “Baby girl, don’t die.” And when the police arrived to arrest her, Bing told them to “lock [her] away for good” since she didn’t have the heart to tell her grandchildren that she killed their mother.
She also told them she intended to kill Lane if he returned to her home, given his earlier threats. Oddly enough, though, Lane was at the emergency room being treated for that head injury at the time. Not only that, but he was being interviewed by police when the call came in about the shooting at Bing’s house!
Needless to say, Adele Bing currently resides in the Polk County Jail on charges of second-degree murder, as well as child abuse without great bodily harm. Of course, I think that poor little baby is the real victim here. After all, she just lost her mother and her grandmother… and all because of “a f—ed up accident.” What a shame.
Leave it to Miley Cyrus to not only continue shocking people with her awards show antics, but also to do it in style… and a very strange style at that.
Cyrus arrived at last night’s American Music Awards looking positively tame. She appeared on the red carpet wearing a sharp, white Versace pantsuit and, for the most part, kept her mouth closed and simply smiled at the paparazzi and fans screaming her name.
I’m sure this made some people nervous considering Cyrus was slated to perform the closing number at the awards show. And after her recent on-stage escapades—which included a semi-nude, sexually charged VMA performance with singer Robin Thicke, as well as a live joint-smoking puff fest at the MTV European Music Awards—everyone was expecting the worst.
Oddly enough, though, Cyrus’ performance of “Wrecking Ball” was as tame as her red carpet stroll. Sure, she wore a skin-tight cat suit—quite literally—and the screen behind her featured a floating feline that mouthed the words of the song along with her—even mimicking her trademark tongue wag—but overall, it was a far cry from what many thought might happen.
Personally, I’m waiting for Miley to come onstage completely nude since that’s about all she hasn’t done yet. And despite having little or no interest in her music, I can say this: if the “Queen of Twerking” ever performed in the buff, I would certainly tune in… and you better believe my DVR would be set to record, too!
Since it’s such a nice, cold fall day—and since there are still a few minutes of daylight left to enjoy—here’s an express edition of the Reality Round-Up to keep things moving.
In MICHIGAN, a woman is suing Etihad Airways over a flight she took from Abu Dhabi to Chicago on August 6th. She reached into her seat pocket to retrieve the knob from her broken tray table, felt something poke her finger and discovered it was a hypodermic needle and syringe! A long and powerful treatment of drugs to prevent AIDS later and I think it’s clear she has a case.
A man in PLEASANT HILL, MISSOURI has just been charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with a vehicle. Police visited his home on November 4th to investigate reports of a stolen vehicle and drugs. Upon searching his home, officers discovered a bucket filled with freshly poured concrete. Encased in cement was the stillborn son his wife had delivered nearly a month earlier! Gross-and-macabre is not a good mix!
A convenience store owner and his son are in big trouble in HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK. A customer who doesn’t speak English recently handed the clerk a scratch-off ticket he believed to be a winner. Karim Jaghab, 26, told the man he won $1000, handed him the cash and pocketed the ticket—which was really worth $1 million! Fortunately, the customer realized what happened, contacted the authorities and the scam was uncovered. The owner and his son claim a faulty lottery machine was to blame, but they seem to have forgotten the most important thing… the thing any convenience store owner who deals with lottery tickets should know: only payouts under $600 can be paid immediately by store clerks!
Finally—in BALTIMORE, MARYLAND—it looks like 14 more corrections officers have been indicted for working with prison gangs, most notably the Black Guerrilla Family. This brings the total to 44 people indicted on federal charges—27 of whom were Baltimore corrections officers. Apparently—and for quite some time—guards have been paid to smuggle drugs, cell phones and other contraband items to inmates. Some even develop personal and sexual relationships with convicts. They trade sex for money, sneak prohibited objects to them inside their body cavities and even bear children for notorious criminals. Alleged gang member Tavon White has impregnated four guards to date and likes prison so much he had this to say about it in a taped cell phone call: “This is my jail. You understand that? I’m dead serious… I make every final call in this jail… and nothing go past me.”
I’m certainly glad we can keep our criminals happy. It’s important to be sensitive to the wants and needs of our incarcerated brothers and sisters. After all, they’re people, too.
Seriously, though… I’m full of shit. Prison should be punishment, not paradise. I couldn’t even keep a straight face as I was typing that!
So ends the express edition of the RRU. Enjoy the last remnants of your weekend, peeps!
Okay. I give up.
Despite yesterday being the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy—one of the defining moments in our nation’s history and arguably the most controversial event of the 20th century—I thought I could escape without writing about it. After all, there are millions of shows, books, newscasts, documentaries, films, magazine articles, federal documents and other resources devoted to the minutiae of that tragic day in Dallas. Why even attempt to join the conversation, especially a day late?
I’ll tell you why: because I’m a huge skeptic and conspiracy theorist in my own right. And the JFK assassination is the Great White Whale of conspiracies—or at least alleged conspiracies.
Don’t worry, though. The 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK only sparked my curiosity. Since then I have read extensively on the subject and even though I still believe there was some kind of conspiracy involved, I am capable of seeing both sides. Of course, that’s not why I’m writing today. Covering one conspiracy theory after another seems too much like beating a dead horse, so instead I’ll share some facts I learned along the way.
And yes, some of these come from a marathon evening of History Channel specials about the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination. I hope you enjoy them nonetheless!
Please don’t go: Before he left for Dallas, President Kennedy received warnings urging him to reconsider. One came from U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, who described Texas as “dangerous.” The other came via letter through Kennedy’s press secretary from a Texas resident. It read simply “Don’t let the President go to Texas. Texas is too dangerous.” Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
The Bad Seed: According to the former owner of the Bronx apartment building where Lee Harvey Oswald lived as a child, the young Oswald always had a violent streak. He once got a BB gun for Christmas, perched himself in a window and used it to target neighbors’ windows… and sometimes even the neighbors themselves!
Killer Practice: Nearly seven months before the Kennedy assassination, Oswald tried to murder former U.S. Army major general Edwin Walker as he sat in the dining room of his home. A self-proclaimed Marxist, Oswald objected to Walker’s militant ant-Communist views and fired several shots through his window. The shots were deflected by the window frame, shattered and injured Walker in the process. Oswald only became a suspect in the April 10, 1963 shooting after being arrested for murdering President Kennedy the following November.
Round-the-Clock News: Following President Kennedy’s assassination, the three major television networks—ABC, CBS and NBC—covered the story non-stop and commercial-free for nearly four days. Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, this was the longest uninterrupted news event in American television history!
What Would You Say: JFK’s last words were spoken to Nelli Connally, the wife of then-Texas Governor John Connally. “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you!” she told him. The president replied, “That is very obvious.” And those were the last words he would ever speak again.
Sit Up Straight: On that fateful November day, the president was wearing a back brace that kept his spine straight—he often struggled with a sore back—but also forced him to sit upright. This limited his mobility—as well as his ability to take cover—and made him an easy target for the fatal headshot to come.
Shaken, Not Stirred: President Kennedy was known to be a huge fan of British Agent 007 James Bond and was supposedly writing his own spy novel. It centered around a coup d’état led by none other than—wait for it—Vice President Lyndon Johnson! Take that and run with it, my conspiracy theorist brothers and sisters!
A Slap on the Wrist: Believe it or not, but killing or attempting to kill the President wasn’t even a federal offense in 1963—and wouldn’t become one until several years later. Had Oswald lived long enough to stand trial, it would have happened in Texas according to state law. One way or another he would have died, though. I’m fairly certain of that.
I’m in the Money: The now infamous home movie of the Kennedy assassination—shot by clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder near the so-called “grassy knoll” in Dealey Plaza—was purchased by Life magazine for $150,000. The American public wouldn’t see it until 12 years later or—if you’re like me—until 1991, the year the film JFK was released.
Getting Technical: Lee Harvey Oswald was never arrested for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Instead, he was taken into custody for shooting Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit roughly 45 minutes later. Oswald wasn’t charged with Kennedy’s murder until later, despite the evidence against him being largely circumstantial. Of course, none of it mattered since JFK’s alleged killer was gunned down by nightclub owner Jack Ruby before he could face any of the charges against him.
Please Come In: In the days leading up to Lee Harvey Oswald’s murder, Jack Ruby can be seen numerous times on the third floor of the municipal building where the suspected assassin is being held. He was never checked for identification—despite there being no need for the services of a nightclub owner—and even reached the door of the room where Oswald was being held. On the morning of Oswald’s transfer to county jail, Ruby visits a nearby Western Union office—to wire some money to one of his strippers who is behind on her rent—and then manages to slip into the basement of the police station… a mere moments before Oswald is escorted to his death!
The Lady Had Class: Shortly after the murders of both JFK and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, First Lady Jackie Kennedy wrote Tippit’s widow a heartfelt note. In it, she expressed her deepest condolences, insisted that neither death was more important than the other—despite the publicity for the President overshadowing Tippit’s death—and said the eternal flame burning in Washington for Kennedy also burned for her husband. I can understand why our nation loved Jackie so much. What a classy lady.
So ends my foray into the 1963 assassination of 36thU.S. president John Fitzgerald Kennedy by the lone gunman and pro-Communist supporter Lee Harvey Oswald… or the mob… or the Russians… or the CIA… or whoever the hell was responsible. Sadly, the truth of that tragic fall day in Dallas may never be known. Oliver Stone’s film helped since it forced the declassification of 97% of the federal documents related to Kennedy’s assassination. The other 3% could be declassified in 2017, as long as our next president allows this to happen.
Personally, I’m hoping for another Democrat since a Republican president seems far less likely to share this information with the American public. Or maybe just a young, level-headed president, regardless of political affiliation… someone like JFK!
This week marks the anniversaries of two very tragic events in America’s history, both of which have fascinated me—and others—for decades: the Jonestown massacre and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Although I still believe JFK’s murder was part of a larger conspiracy—and that Lee Harvey Oswald was likely just a “patsy,” as he claimed shortly before being gunned down by nightclub owner Jack Ruby—the truth may never be revealed to the American public, especially given their recent distrust in elected officials and all the partisan politics in Washington.
Jonestown, on the other hand, is well established in fact. And honestly, it’s too freaky a story for me to ignore, which is why this is the anniversary I will commemorate—for lack of a better word—today.
Jonestown—which was actually called the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project—was a community established in Guyana by Reverend Jim Jones, a controversial religious leader in the 1960s known for his integrationist views and his strong belief in apostolic socialism—the basic concept being that “those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment—socialism.”
In his early career—and despite harboring great sympathy and respect for Communism, which was a big “no-no” at the time—Jones seemed intent on fighting for civil rights, love and understanding. He and his wife Marceline adopted children of Korean descent to create a “rainbow family” and later became the first white couple in Indiana to adopt a black child. Jones also fought to integrate churches, restaurants and a host of other Indiana businesses, which resulted in harsh criticism, threats and even a bomb scare—a stick of dynamite was once discovered in the coal pile of his church, the Peoples Temple.
In 1961, Jones heard mention of a possible nuclear holocaust—which he believed would occur in 1967—and started visiting South America in an effort to find a suitable location upon which to establish a utopian society. He read in Esquire magazine that Brazil would likely be safe from nuclear fallout and decided to visit, stopping in the British colony of Guyana along the way. When he returned from Brazil in 1965, he immediately moved the Peoples Temple to San Francisco for safety, hoping to eventually build and relocate to a “new socialist Eden on earth.”
Jonestown was starting to come into focus.
While in San Francisco, Jones and the Peoples Temple became extremely political and were integral in the 1975 election of Mayor George Moscone, who soon appointed Jones as chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission. California assemblyman Willie Brown even described Jones as “a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein and Chairman Mao.” He had friends in high places—including First Lady Rosalyn Carter and vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale—and his church grew exponentially, with branches popping up in San Fernando and Los Angeles.
Underneath it all, though, was a growing sense of fear and paranoia. Jones denounced Christianity, continued to drift closer and closer to Communism, worried the IRS was investigating the tax-exempt status of his church, and faced intense media scrutiny—culminating in the threat of an exposé in New West magazine claiming some Peoples Temple defectors were sexually, physically and emotionally abused.
Rather than living in a society that seemed increasingly critical and wary of he and his followers—and anticipating the publication of that damning exposé, which would undoubtedly bring even more negativity—Jones and his congregation decided to create a society of their own in Guyana, which he affectionately referred to as Jonestown. In the summer of 1976, he and several hundred of his congregation members—most of whom were black—were living in South America. And by its peak in 1978, Jonestown boasted almost 1,000 residents.
Unfortunately, life in Jonestown wasn’t as pleasant as people expected it to be, and it was a far cry from the utopian paradise promised by their beloved leader. Work days were long and tiresome, buildings quickly fell into disrepair, supplies were hard to come by and illnesses spread through the community like a brush fire. To make matters worse, members identified as having disciplinary problems were harshly punished—many were beaten or imprisoned—and anyone who attempted to escape would be detained by armed guards or even “treated” with powerful drugs like Thorazine and sodium pentothal.
Meanwhile, Jones’ fear and paranoia—as well as his descent into madness—seemed to be growing and progressing at an alarming rate. Members were subjected to behavior modification and mind control techniques—which were inspired by common practices in Communist China and North Korea—and recordings of Jones ranting and raving about the evil “capitalist and imperialist villains” in America boomed from loudspeakers throughout the compound. In Jones’ view, the CIA and other “capitalist pigs” intended to harm the Peoples Temple and to destroy Jonestown, so the disillusioned leader instituted White Nights—large group events designed to help plan for the so-called worst case scenario. He gave members four choices in terms of responding to outside—and impending—threats: defect to the Soviet Union, stand and fight, flee into the jungle or—most frightening of all—commit mass, revolutionary suicide.
And since Jones obtained a jeweler’s license in 1976 and had been receiving shipments of cyanide on a regular basis, he had everything he needed to make this final option a reality.
By late 1977 and early 1978—and amidst rumors of abuse, religious and political indoctrination, and imprisonment in Jonestown—friends and relatives of Peoples Temple members started to get very concerned about their loved ones. A group of Temple defectors calling themselves “Concerned Relatives” eventually got the attention of Congressman Leo Ryan from California, who decided to investigate for himself. He and a delegation of 18 people—including reporters, photographers and representatives from the Concerned Relatives group—arranged to visit Jonestown in November of 1978.
What Ryan and his group didn’t know was that Jones’ decline into madness and paranoid delusion had grown substantially and his health had even started to deteriorate. He suffered from weight loss, convulsions, temporary blindness, chronic insomnia and a host of other problems, most of which he treated with injectable stimulants and barbiturates. In the months prior to Ryan’s visit, Jones’ persecution complex and megalomania continued to grow and his White Nights events became much more frequent—even to the point of rehearsing mass suicide with his members.
And to say he was suspicious of Congressman Ryan’s visit would be an understatement.
Despite his reservations—and unable to prevent Ryan from visiting once he and his delegation landed in Guyana—Jones reluctantly agreed to let the party enter Jonestown on November 17, 1978. All but four of Ryan’s contingent landed at a small airstrip at Port Kaituma—six miles away from the compound—and arrived just after sunset. Initially, they were accepted with open arms and even invited to a musical celebration that night. Temple members raved about their lives in Guyana and seemed to be in good spirits, but things soon took a much darker turn.
The first Peoples Temple defector to approach Congressman Ryan at the celebration was Vernon Gosney, who mistakenly handed a note intended for Ryan to NBC reporter Don Harris that read, “Dear Congressman Ryan, Vernon Gosney and Monica Bagby. Please help us get out of Jonestown.” The next morning, eleven members fled Jonestown and took a train to nearby Matthew’s Ridge. Among them was Joe Wilson, Jonestown’s head of security.
Reporters and Concerned Relatives members who were unable to take the earlier flight with Ryan arrived at Jonestown that afternoon and were greeted by Marceline Jones, who took them on a tour of the compound. At the same time, even more Peoples Temple members approached Ryan’s delegation and asked to be escorted home. Oddly enough, Jones granted them permission to leave, even after Harris showed him Gosney’s note. Jones, of course, claimed they were lies intended to destroy Jonestown, but nevertheless agreed to let anyone leave who felt they should.
Following a violent rainstorm that afternoon, Ryan’s delegation and a number of defectors—including Temple loyalist Larry Layton, whose presence seemed suspicious to other members—loaded into a dump truck and set out for the airstrip and the long flight home. Congressman Ryan was planning to stay behind, but joined the group after being attacked by a knife-wielding Temple member named Don Sly. He was reluctant to leave—feeling there was still work to be done and other members who may be interested in leaving—but promised to return later.
This was obviously a promise he would never keep—more on that in a moment.
The group reached the airstrip but due to their increased size, they had to wait for two planes to arrive: a 19-passenger Twin Otter from Guyana Airways and a 6-passenger Cessna, which was dispatched by the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown. The planes arrived shortly after 5 p.m. and since it was the first to depart, passengers started to board the Cessna first. Among them was Larry Layton, who waited until the plane taxied to the runway before producing a gun and shooting at the passengers. Gosney and Bagby were injured in the attack, but Layton was disarmed by passenger Dale Parks before he could do any further damage.
Around the same time, passengers were boarding the Twin Otter when they suddenly noticed a tractor with a trailer approaching. In the back were members of the Peoples Temple Security Brigade—all of them armed to the teeth—and before anyone knew what was happening, the gunmen opened fire.
NBC cameraman Bob Brown caught the first few seconds of the attack on film, but was killed along with Bob Harris, defector Patricia Parks and Congressman Ryan, who was shot more than twenty times. As many as nine others were injured before the shooting stopped and the Twin Otter was too damaged to fly. Unfortunately, the pilots of the Cessna weren’t taking any chances and immediately took off for Georgetown, leaving everyone else either injured or dead on the isolated airstrip. Some fled into the jungle, but those who survived the deadly attack were eventually rescued by Guyanese soldiers.
Larry Layton was arrested by the Guyanese state police and was later convicted of conspiracy and of aiding and abetting the murder of Ryan and the attempted murder of Richard Dwyer, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Embassy to Guyana. He remains the only person held criminally responsible for the events on that fateful November day.
Meanwhile—back in Jonestown—Reverend Jones assembled his remaining followers in the pavilion and told them that “one of the people on that plane is gonna shoot the pilot” and that they “better not have any of [their] children left when it’s over, because they’ll parachute in here on us.” His threats intensified once the airstrip shooters returned and confirmed Ryan’s death. And in Jones’ view, there was only one solution: revolutionary suicide.
“You can go down in history, saying you chose your own way to go,” the deranged religious leader told his congregation. “It is your commitment to refuse capitalism and in support of socialism.”
Prior to the meeting, Temple members prepared a large vat of Flavor Aid—not Kool-Aid—and laced it with cyanide, Phenergan, Valium and chloral hydrate. According to reports from escaped Temple members, the first to take the deadly concoction were Ruletta Paul and her one-year-old infant. A syringe was used to squirt the poison into the infant’s mouth and within minutes, others were stepping up to take their doses. Jones circulated through the crowd and encouraged people to drink, but many were reluctant once they watched their friends and loved ones drop dead within five minutes of ingesting the poison.
“Die with a degree of dignity,” he told them. “Lay down your life with dignity; don’t lay down with tears and agony… death is a million times preferable to ten more days of this life. If you knew what was ahead of you, you’d be glad to be stepping over tonight.”
One by one, Temple members drank their share of Flavor Aid and used syringes to dose their children. A few people managed to escape, but generally those who refused to take the poison weren’t given a choice. Of course, Jones chose a different method and instead died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His body was found beside his chair with his head resting comfortably on a pillow.
By the time it was all said and done, the mass suicide at Jonestown—which many considered to be mass murder—claimed 909 lives. The total climbs to 918 once the airstrip victims and a few additional Temple members are included—Jones commanded four of his members in Georgetown to die, which they did obediently. And until the events of September 11, 2001, the Jonestown massacre stood as the single largest loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act in our nation’s history.
I certainly hope this is a record we never break again. And my heart goes out to anyone who lost a loved one on that terrible November day in 1978. This is one anniversary that no one should have to experience.
Honoring the Jackass of the Day can be a little tricky since by the time I read about this individual, the “day” of their ridiculous behavior has likely passed. Nevertheless, honorees still deserve credit for doing things most of us would never consider—or would be too responsible or intelligent to allow—and for this edition, I have two candidates in mind.
The first is Ryan Jake Lambourn, the creator of an online game entitled “The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary School” that lets players assume the role of Adam Lanza on that fateful day in December when 26 people—including 20 first-graders—lost their lives.
The game begins in Lanza’s home and offers players instructions like “shoot mother” and “get AR-15 and clips.” It then moves to the school so players can wander through the hallways, popping caps into students and teachers as they flee the deadly scene.
As you might imagine, Lambourn has come under fire for his game and parents and friends of the Sandy Hook victims can’t believe someone would glorify such a horrible act.
Lambourn could not be reached for comment—obviously—but defended himself online and claimed that his game was intended to “promote stricter gun control measures” and to bring attention to other important issues.
“Here we are nearly a year after the Sandy Hook shootings in which 26 people were killed and absolutely nothing positive has come out of it,” Lambourn explained.
Of course, nobody seems to be buying his excuse, least of all U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy, who issued the following statement after hearing about the Sandy Hook game:
“To make a game about the murder of 20 children and their six teachers is absolutely sickening. I hope the very disturbed person who could think of something like this sees the cruelty of what he’s done and stops it.”
I hope so, too. Until then, however, Lambourn will reign supreme as my Jackass of the Day—or will at least share the honor with my next award recipient.
Lambourn’s co-Jackass of the Day is a Santa Fe man who was never named in the article I read, and probably shouldn’t be anyway. I certainly wouldn’t want my name connected to such jackass behavior, and in a moment you’ll understand why.
The man was leaving Wal-Mart one afternoon when he was approached by three strange women. They told him that he had a dark spirit and needed to have his soul cleansed before it was too late. He followed the women to a white van and handed over his cash and jewelry since they were identified as the “root of his problems.” The women then instructed him to cash a $500 check and when he returned with the cash, they took it, ripped it in half and kept it. The soul cleansing took place and the man left with a much lighter spirit than before, or so he thought.
A few days passed and the man finally realized what happened: he had been scammed and his soul wasn’t really cleansed. He reported the incident to police, who caught up with the women at a nearby motel. They denied taking cash from the man, but confessed to having his jewelry and returned it. Of course, the cops couldn’t arrest the women, and you know why?
Because he gave everything to them willingly!
Jackasses are everywhere, to be sure, but please give it up for today’s award winners. Well deserved!