Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Asking why

I never saw Russell Kocur without a smile on his face.

He was one of those guys you liked immediately, the type you felt like you'd known forever.

He was from Texas and he liked the Astros. Remembered fondly watching the great Nolan Ryan sling that baseball. Got a big grin when he talked about those big Texas-sized crowds that used to come watch his high school's football games.

But he liked Halls, too. He liked the kids, liked Halls High, liked his job as a school security guard. He liked it so much, in fact, when his mother tried to convince him to come back home to the Lone Star State, he put her off.

"I like it here. I'll just stay."

He stopped me last week to make sure I'd signed in at the office and gotten my visitor's pass, even though everybody in that school knows my face. I kidded him about it, but he was dead serious.

"We're really having to watch that. Just trying to protect the kids."

The pouring rain had become a drizzle when Officer Kocur went to inspect the suspicious looking van with Virginia plates that had pulled into the school parking lot last night around 10:30.

Kocur had no idea he was about to come face to face with a man who had killed once that week. When he radioed that he was checking "a suspect who may be intoxicated, driving a van with Virginia tags," he surely had no idea that in four minutes he would be fatally wounded.

This man, you see, had killed an elderly gentleman in Golax, Virginia, either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, and escaped in a stolen car. He most likely came into Tennessee through Harrogate and Maynardville, and on this night he had pulled into the Halls High parking lot to change a flat tire. He saw Kocur, aimed a .22 revolver and fired.

The man, later identified as Carroll Lineberry of Golax, fatally wounded Kocur in the lung, kidney and liver. He took off in the Chevrolet Impala that Kocur had purchased that day from Halls guy David Wilson.

Kocur radioed in that he'd been shot. When police officers arrived two minutes later, Kocur was unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital.

Lineberry fled to I-275 and was pulled over near the Oldham Ave. exit near downtown. He's in jail tonight on a $750,000 bond.

Things like this aren't supposed to happen in Halls. But, then again, they weren't supposed to happen in Campbell County, either. Or Columbine, Colorado. We live, my friends, in a different world.

Kocur's death is a reminder that tomorrow isn't a guarantee. Take time tonight and tell those you care about most that you love them. You may never get another chance.

Tennyson once wrote that "their's isn't to question why."

But, dammit, it's hard to understand how something like this can happen to such a good man.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

officer Kocur... may he rest in peace...
your video tribute to him was amazing... you, dear jake, have a gift... keep doing what you're doing...

11:31 PM  

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