Question of the Day: When Do You Call the Cops on A Potential Murderer?

“I always knew you were going to shoot up the school,” murder victim Sam Strahan told killer Caleb Sharpe just before he was shot, according to court records. “You know that is going to get you in trouble.” spokesman.com reports that there were plenty of other warning signs that Mr. Sharpe was mentally ill and potentially violent:

Sharpe bragged of owning multiple guns and knew how to make improvised explosive devices, according to one of Sharpe’s classmates . . .

According to Sharpe’s mother, he had written a suicide note a week prior. Sharpe’s school counselor knew he was suicidal, according to court documents.

Freeman student Christina Morrison said she knew Sharpe well. He was suicidal, had “mental problems” she said. She never expected him to be violent, however.

Once again, we have a killer whose behavior prior to the incident clearly indicated the potential for trouble. We don’t know if law enforcement was aware of Mr. Sharpe, but I’d like to know if and when you’d call the cops to report someone you considered possibly homicidal.

What would it take to make you drop the dime? And is that the right answer, anyway?

comments

  1. avatar JDC says:

    You can’t say anything these days. You will be accused of being a bully, insensitive, racist, patriarchal, bigoted, misogynistic, white privilegistic, nativist, or anything else. If you react to violence with a defensive posture, you are escalating the situation, and YOU’RE the problem.
    The only reason this guy shot the school up, is that he was being bullied and oppressed and had no choice. He was obviously being bullied because he belonged to mental health and suicidal oppressed categories.

    See how this works? I can do this all day.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      ‘You will be accused of being a bully, insensitive, racist, patriarchal, bigoted, misogynistic, white privilegistic, nativist, or anything else.’

      Don’t forget ‘Islamophobic’.

      1. avatar Yada says:

        Well…. if you advocate for being able to say anything you want, what gives you the expectation that others cannot (in response to what you are saying)? It cuts both ways.

        I.E. Person A Says:: Islam is the religion of death.
        Person B Says: You’re an Islamophobe.

        Why is okay for A, but not B? Or B but not A?

        Just saying. I am all for such freedoms, but for me it applies to all.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          The difference is that one is the truth and the other a lie. Not that I’d support the gubmint determining which is which, though.

        2. avatar Terclinger says:

          Facts vs. falsehoods.

          Lose the moral equivalency of statements and cultures. When you taught that you were lied to.

        3. avatar Yada says:

          All the moral equivalency argument tells me, when it comes to ‘Speech’, is that one’s God and the requisite Shaman would be the adjudicator of what is moral and what is not. This isn’t a reasonable solution. And as conceded we don’t want the government arbitrating it, this is speech after all.

          If one wants to have the freedom to be able to say ‘Islam is a violent religion”
          Then they need to be able to accept others calling them Islamaphobic without being sensitive snowflakes about it.

          The fact is, Anti-Political Correctness is, ironically, a form of Political Correctness in and of itself.

  2. avatar No one of consequence says:

    A hard call. Everyone has a right to his own quirks, so long as they don’t harm others. If we call in every little peculiarty we trend towards various version of Harrison Bergeron’s world. If nobody ever says anything, we wind up with, well, this. Most teens have a lot of built-in insecurity and desire to be noticed, and many have a strong need to be seen as different and therefore unique (both of which most of us past age 30 or so have mostly forotten out of mental self-protection) making it an especially hard call.

    I suppose for me it would have to be when I believe the threat is credible, actionable and immenent. How would I call those lines, though? I honestly am not sure.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Very tricky.
      If we encourage calling individuals out on character quirks, where do we draw the line? Will alerting authorities to someone boasting about their favorite guns become commonplace? Will institutionalizing a crossdresser be advisable given their propensity for suicide? At what point do we declare that an individuals rights are secondary to the “common good”?
      Societies do not have rights; only individuals do. An individual has a right to self preservation and in no free society can a government take away or infringe on that right – that one rule must always trump whatever “solution” we devise here.
      So the only solution I can see is to effectively say, “take care of yourself” in the event someone becomes an immediate threat to you life – meaning then that our government cannot logically deny us the ability to do so at any time.

      1. avatar Terclinger says:

        We can stop tolerating and stop celebrating and stop legislating deviant behavior. I.e There are NOT 37 gender pronouns. And the fact that I can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for refusing to acknowledge “gender identity theory” in some cities is ludicrous.

  3. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    When he/she doesn’t pay the blackmail money I demanded.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      The *point* of blackmail is to be in fear of your blackmailer.

      It’s kinda tough to fear your blackmailer when he drives a fuel-efficient hybrid, APM…

      *snicker* 😉

      1. avatar Snatchums says:

        I want to go full Jay Leno and start driving a coal fired steam car just to watch some vegan yippie chick’s head explode.

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    Gee I don’t know…but in rebuttal it’s pretty EZ these days to drop a dime on some disturbed cretin. ANONYMOUSLY too. Swatting for realz. Plenty of “see something-say something” narc on your neighbor(or “bullied sissy classmate” avenues…

  5. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    When the police would have cause to charge him/her with a crime. Otherwise, what are the police going to do about it? Ring his doorbell and ask him if he’s a homicidal maniac?

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “When the police would have cause to charge him/her with a crime.”

      Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner!

      Freedom is sometimes messy. Along with freedom comes free will — and the potential for people to abuse their free will. THAT is why we should be prepared to defend ourselves at all times.

    2. avatar California Richard says:

      +1 cops enforce laws and effect arrests for violations of the law. Outside that is: “the cops giving people a hard time,” which effectively means: “the cops aren’t doing anything about the problem”….. flip side of the same coin.

  6. avatar jwm says:

    If you know that your classmate is mentally ill, suicidal and armed why would you bully him? Do you believe you’re bulletproof?

    Or maybe it’s only after the fact that people do the math and now they’re looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      Because even bright teenagers are idiots as a group, and their IQ falls quadratically with the size of the group. (clique? “in” crowd?)

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Candidates for the next Darwin Award.

  7. avatar ram says:

    I’m sure his parents must have had some clue as to his mental state which should have had some response to his free access to their gun safe.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      ram,

      I know it feels really good to imagine the attacker’s parents being clairvoyant (knowing that their son was going to attack people) and locking their firearm safe. In reality parents are not clairvoyant and locking all their firearms in a gun safe does absolutely nothing to stop their son from stealing someone’s car and driving it into a crowd of people or taking some chain, a lock, a gallon of gasoline, and some matches to a classroom.

      Prevention is often impossible: we should be armed and able to protect ourselves (and any children in our care) at all times.

  8. avatar Noishkel says:

    I’m from the kind of places where you don’t nark on people. Ever.

    If someone’s a problem you deal with it when it gets there. Especially given random murders are so rare as to not really be a ‘thing’. After all the anti’s have to scavenger the nation day in and day out to find a handful of individual example that can just barely fit their narratives.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Hear, hear!

  9. avatar Darkman says:

    I guess it depends on how much of a conscious you have. Is keeping your mouth shut when you know someone may be going to do something terrible easier to deal with than the regret of not saying anything. It comes down to morality and guilt. I know some will say you’re being a narc. Put yourself in the shoes of the victims or even worse put yourself in the shoes of their families. I’ve heard it said be the change you want to see. Choices are hard and have consequences. Even if you decide to do nothing you have still made a choice. Can you live with the consequences?

  10. avatar Phil LA says:

    It’s illegal to break the law. Until then, there is not much that we can do.

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      No Conscious or Morals!!!

  11. avatar FedUp says:

    I can think of a couple of kids in high school who talked like that (except for the suicide part). I’m sure millions of other people in Michigan could say the same.
    And 30 years later, there still hasn’t been a student initiated school shooting in Michigan, just the one where a teacher killed the superintendent in Chelsea in the 1990s.

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/chelsea/former-chelsea-teacher-who-fatally-shot-superintendent-speaks-out-on-gun-control/

    1. avatar Roger says:

      The largest school mass murder was the 1927 bombing of the Bath Consolidated School in MI. 38 children killed, 6 adults, and 58 inured.

      1. avatar FedUp says:

        And that wasn’t a student either. The guy was a farmer, and I think a school janitor.

        Bombed his own house too.

  12. avatar Mark N. says:

    When something is going down, it is time to call 911. Until then, not so much. For example, the night before last, my daughter called, saying that two of her neighbors were fighting (the husband was drunk, loud, and violent), and she could hear things being broken and blows being landed. She asked, “When it is appropriate to call the police?” I said, “NOW.”

  13. avatar DrewR55 says:

    ‘Dropping the dime’ on someone is a short distance away from those “gun violence protection orders” that the pro-2A community despises (and for good reason).

    Yes, if you think someone is a threat it is probably a good idea to notify the authorities (I’ve called dispatch about possible drunk drivers before) but a) what can they do? And b) their track record for doing something in time is pretty shitty.

    In the end YOU are responsible for your safety so keep you head up and be aware of what is going on around you. I work on a college campus and you can bet your ass I am eyeballing everyone and checking rooftops every day.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      DrewR55,

      Right on brother!

      I do not even bother to call on drunk drivers any more.

      I called on a drunk driver one time who was swerving into oncoming traffic and off onto the shoulder. The police arrived after he went into someone’s home. They told me they could not do anything because the man could claim that he went inside and pounded a pint of whiskey. The fact that the alcohol from that pint of whiskey could not produce a 0.04 blood alcohol level in 2 minutes nor my witness testimony did not seem to matter.

      And I called another time for another drunk driver who was all over the place on an interstate highway (and his speed would go from 50 to 80 m.p.h. and everywhere in between). The dispatcher told me to keep my distance and police never showed up.

      The idea that police will show up to save the day is a myth. We are on our own.

  14. avatar IYearn4nARnCali says:

    Perhaps a good place to start is the end of the zero tolerance policy? Why should the picked on kid get punished for taking an ass whoopin? Perhaps starting a self-defense course for bullied, or “at risk” students only, the big kids are already probably in sports so they can handle themselves. Admittedly I am making assumptions here, it just seems that allowing bullying to escalate beyond the level of the pre-Internet days, is counter-productive. In the past, you couldn’t allow a bully access to you unless they went to your home, now, every device has a webcam and a microphone and speaker attached to it, which gives them access.

    Course that also requires turning off the damn device if people are harassing you. Straying from the topic notwithstanding, if the classmates, teachers, counselors, parents, friends, neighbors, gas station employees, fast food workers, etc, can tell that a kid is troubled and spiraling inward, you know, watching a ton of MSNBC (heheh) then perhaps it is time to sit that kid down and help them unplug from the rat race?

    Bullying should be responded to with a beating, that is the zero tolerance we need nationwide. Self-defense training is a great start, training kids to blow off steam with a nice calm marksmanship course, teaching them why you don’t just pick up a gun when you feel the walls closing in could very well put a serious ding in future school shootings.

    Best idea may be hiring all the hippy dippy liberal teachers from colleges nationwide that will be in free fall when the bottom drops out of college and numbers of debt slaves, I mean applicants/students drains off? psst that’s a joke…

    1. avatar Snatchums says:

      “Bullying should be responded to with a beating”

      Precisely, if a bully gets smacked down every time he acts up, he won’t be doing that for long. Though I was particularly fond of feeling a bully panic when I had him in a choke hold and he suddenly realizes he can’t breathe and I’m not letting go until he calms his tits or he passes out.

  15. avatar Kaban says:

    >>According to Sharpe’s mother, he had written a suicide note a week prior.
    >>Sharpe’s school counselor knew he was suicidal, according to court documents.

    Behold the startling efficiency of school staff and exemplary attitude of the family.

    Should not we answer a simple question: suppose police faces a child which might or might not talked the talk, what can they do?

  16. avatar ihrsvhfd says:

    I do it when they’re eating ham sandwich at patisserie.

    1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

      Hardy har har.

  17. avatar Jim Benton says:

    I read articles about these killers without a conscience daily. I try to find something vicious looking in their pictures, but have been unsuccessful. However, I have found that most of them look stupid.

    1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

      And you can’t go and call the police on everybody stupid looking because you don’t have the time.

  18. avatar Not my usual login name says:

    Late at night, a coworker who was angry at our boss (who was a complete and total jerk) asked me if I knew of an assault rifle that would fit into a laptop case. I asked him why he wanted to know, and he said that some people just deserve to die. Then he nodded towards our bosses desk.

    I called the HR after hours hotline, thinking that they would revoke his badge right away. Instead, they scheduled an “interview” with me the next day, where I explained to HR that even though I didn’t want to work for our boss, I didn’t want to see him dead either.

    Then HR went in for the kill: They wanted to know why someone like that would feel that he could confide in me, insinuating that I could also be a problem for them.

    Well, they didn’t fire the guy (at least not right away), because it was my word against his. But from then on, both of us were under intense scrutiny.

    I learned my lesson: HR is not your friend, and they always suspect the messenger first. Next time somebody asks me if I know of an assault rifle that fits in a laptop case, I’ll do the right thing and call the cops straightaway, and let them deal with HR.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      That’s a hell of a story.

  19. avatar Ed says:

    I still think you’re gonna win, scooter!

  20. avatar Mark Kelly's Diapered Drooling Ventriloquist's Dummy says:

    This “Joker-faced” bozo reminds me of “school shooter” Kip Kinkle, remember HIM? And speaking of Kinkle anyone who names their kid “Kip Kinkle” (think of the torment he endured ie. Twinkle Winkle Kip Kinkle etc.) is begging to be shot, he did shoot and kill his parents before heading off to school and evening the score with those that bullied him, his sister, away at college, was the only family member to survive. As for “Caleb Sharpe” he appears to be a dimwitted dullard at best likely not the “sharpest” pencil in the box.

  21. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    “…, we have a killer whose behavior prior to the incident clearly indicated the potential for trouble.”

    We’ll was it clear *before* the incident?

    Don’t fall into the trap of using information learned after the fact to judge the incident and what lead to it’s occurrence.

    One person heard one thing, a second person saw something, a third person heard and saw something else. Before any event it was just three small things that were weird. It only becomes a ‘clear case’ -after- the event when those three people and stories get together.

  22. avatar TRUBRIT says:

    Any of you have kids? When you drop them off at school next, think what you would want them to do if they suspect something or see something? Do you want to be the parent outside the school waiting anxiously for his child to come out after something like this hapens, only to see your child isn’t coming out?
    Look at the YouTube Videos of people getting beaten up, shot, run over, etc. People are quick to get their phone out to take a video but not to call 911 or to step in and do something. What a selfish society we now live in. Would I drop a dime, absolutely. I would be rather be wrong 9 times out of 10, but be right once and save someone’s life. Would I try and assist someone in trouble? Absolutely, how could I not? If you or a loved one were getting beaten or shot at, would you not want someone to help?

  23. avatar Bob999 says:

    I saw this movie before. I think it was called the Minority Report.

    Look, people always claim after an event that we should have done something. But really, unless we create an intelligence apparatus for spying on americans, there is usually no way before the event to connect the dots. Personally, I would rather take the chance the someone may be a time bomb rather than subjugate all people and create thousands of time bombs.

    1. avatar raz-0 says:

      OK, I don’t like the idea of guilty until proven innocent, however one should make that judgment call with a realistic perspective of what is up fro debate rather than unfettered cynicism.

      This is a real world example from a local school system. IT is mostly not public knowledge, but I know a number of people involved in the steps taken and people talk about stuff like this so..

      -Kid X was having a problem with their situation in school.
      -Things were said by kid X to several others who became concerned and reported it to various individuals.
      -Net result was that because of those kids, some parents, the police, and the school system knew of the issue.
      -At that point various parties convinced one of the kids/parents to file a complaint with the police so an investigation could be initiated without the school having to take immediate disciplinary action.
      -The investigators contacted kid X’s parents and gave them the option of cooperating quietly or turning this into a by the book circus.
      -At this point, additional material was found to corroborate the claims of threats being made, but it was also confirmed that the threats were not realistically able to be carried out by kid X.
      -Kid X was removed from the school and provided the ability to pursue an education elsewhere and separate them from the issues with some of their peers.
      -Kid X was referred to counseling.
      -Kid X was also being charged with a relatively minimal charge compared to what they could have been charged with, and it was agreed by the parents that kid X should plead guilty in exchange for probation that would require the continued attendance of Kid X at counseling sessions for the duration.
      -there was also some arrangement made the Kid X was not to return to that school’s property.
      -A number of students at the school, and their parents, were informed that any online contact by said students with a list of other students would be viewed as a violation of their cyber bullying policy and result in suspensions and/or expulsion.
      -there were also rumors that restraining orders were issued, but nobody could confirm such or any details.

      The above doesn’t strike me as all that unreasonable, however it did require gaming the official rules on paper rather than blindly following the policy they laid out, and would not have worked out so well if any of the parties who need to behave responsibly chose to be idiots. In this case, the school, police, and all the parents involved chose to be reasonable human beings intent on minimizing overall harm.

      It’d be nice if we could institutionalize that rather than the downright bizarre stuff we do.

  24. avatar DerryM says:

    I don’t want the Government or other “Public Offficialdom” making judgements about who is about to crack and perpetrate mass murder on innocent people. Those entities back their judgements with the authority to egregiously violate the natural and civil rights of anyone whom they choose. Once that iteration of Pandora’s Box is opened everyone’s rights are in danger.
    There is no pat answer for us individuals or clearly defined guideline with which to make a judgement when we see or srtrongly suspect a relative, friend or acquaintance is near to crossing the line into acting out violent behavior. The “court records” in this case indicate several people had reason to suspect, Caleb Sharpe was becoming increasingly dangerous, yet did nothing to intervene.
    If my gut intuition was telling me someone was about to commit an act of violence against other people, I would rather drop the dime than be one of those persons saying after-the-fact, “I thought ‘so-and-so’ was about to do something terrible.” In fact, in that case I would probably say nothing. Being right in hindsight is very unsatisfactory and smacks of attention craving, which I want none of in that kind of situation.
    For me, in the end it would come down to a matter of conscience. If I said nothing and the person killed and injured a number of others in an attack I might have been able to prevent, I would have a hard time dealing with that result. If nothing came of it, I would feel a bit foolish, but could live with it. Perhaps, I would have to make some restitution to the person I turned-in, but that would be preferable and acceptable. If the “authorities” did nothing and the person perpetrated the act of violence, I could live with knowing I tried. YMMV.

  25. avatar jwtalor says:

    If someone says they want to kill someone, they have shown the physical ability to do it, they expressed a clear plan on how they will do it, and they can reasonably enact that plan and have taken steps to accomplish the plan, call the cops.

    1. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

      Those are pretty close to the textbook elements of conspiracy to commit murder. (I.e., when the police can actually do something).

  26. avatar jwtaylor says:

    If someone says they want to kill someone, they have shown the physical ability to do it, they expressed a clear plan on how they will do it, and they can reasonably enact that plan and have taken steps to accomplish the plan, call the cops.

  27. avatar H says:

    Parents and officials knew he’d had suicidal thoughts. Why did he have access to the gun safe?

  28. avatar Matt says:

    Isnt there the 4 things you look for in suicidal people? Ideation, a plan, a means, and a scheduled time or something close to that? Iirc if 3 are met there is a good chance that the 4th will come soon. If all 4 are met is considered crisis is immenent and intervention is needed to stop something bad from happening. That could easily be applied to other situations. It sounds like they easily had 3 of those boxes ticked.

  29. avatar Spoke says:

    More information keeps coming out. Because the shooter was underage, a lot of things cannot be discussed by the school. Sounds like he was expelled for the threats and had to get mental health counseling before he was allowed back at school. He was on his first day back when he shot others. Also, his parents didn’t give him the combination. Being a smart and very premeditated planner, he figured it out somehow and also how to bypass the home security system installed that alerted his parents if he left home. Both the bullying and suicide also look to be a coverup he created.

    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/sep/16/freeman-high-school-suspended-shooter-after-note-d/

    That kid was just going to do what he was going to do. There are just some murderer/predators in this world.

  30. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

    As others are said, calling the police is likely, nearly to the point of certainty, to be useless if no crime has been committed. Additionally, as I am not a mental health professional, I don’t know which kinds of crazy are the potentially dangerous kinds of crazy. As a lawyer, I do know that to be committed as a danger to others, you pretty much have to have done something in the past already.

    Our mental health system does not work well for this kind of thing.

  31. avatar adverse4 says:

    You can always talk a killer out of killing………Right?

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