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David Wicks via

The Redding Record Searchlight reported a horrific story from Burney, California this Christmas season: an attack on a gas station in Shasta County that left one person burned to death. Around 7 p.m. on Wednesday December 21, a man dressed in yellow rain gear, a black hood pulled over his head and black gloves, walked into the Rocky Ledge Shell station, sprayed a flammable liquid around the store and on David Wicks, the clerk behind the counter. The perp then lit the fluid on fire, and rode off on a black bicycle.

In studying the surveillance video, investigators say the attacker was a man who stood about 5 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet, 9 inches tall. They have little else to go on, but they did find a beach cruiser bicycle four blocks away from the gas station, on Third Street and Pine Avenue, that matched the description of the bike the killer rode off on.

Sheriff’s Lt. Anthony Bertain said investigators don’t know a motive for the attack. His friends can’t understand how anyone would want to harm him….

Rocky Ledge Shell station owners Jaspal Singh and Devinder Sahota visited the store Thursday morning. They said they have known Wicks and his wife, Sonja, for a year. Sonja also works at the store as a manager. She came by on Thursday to pick up their car that had been parked there overnight.

“We’ve never been in a situation like this before,” Sahota said. “Our primary goal is to console Sonja….”

Secret Witness of Shasta County is offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of David Wicks’ killer. Singh said he’s working to add $5,000 to that reward. Sahota and Singh, both of the Sikh faith, added that they would have a prayer, known as “Ardas,” at the Sikh temple in honor of Wicks.

The fact that this crime didn’t even have some sort of pecuniary motive, that it was apparently a matter of pure violence says something dispiriting about our world during a time of year that’s supposed to be a time of warmth with family and friends.

California is widely acknowledged as having some of the strictest gun laws in the country. The astroturf anti-Second Amendment organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, has given The Golden State an “A” rating because of laws requiring firearm purchasers to obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate and prohibiting the sale of so-called “unsafe” handguns.

Of course, those restrictions also raise the cost of entry to gun ownership for people on the financial margins of our society…you know, like people who work in jobs with a high risk of crime like being the midnight clerk at a gas station.

I’m not saying that a gun would’ve stopped what happened in Burney last week. For Mr. Wicks’ sake, I wish it had been a defensive gun use. But this was apparently a bolt-from-the-blue attack that was over and done with in fifteen seconds. Still, one thing that everyone from Col. Cooper to “Gun Guy” Dan Baum agree on is that when a properly trained citizen carries a firearm, it tends to make them more alert to other people and their actions. Maybe that would’ve given the victim in this case an edge.

There’s no way to know for sure. But I’d rather take the chance that it would have. Knowing that there’s a sadistic murderer running around immolating people in random attacks in northern California, I think I’d put a little more trust in my own GLOCK that in California’s finest — no disrespect intended —  if I was in or around Shasta county at the moment.

(H/T: @ed_grimly, via Twitter.)

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  1. This story is why I, a CA resident, packs a gun when I feel it’s needed. My life and my loved ones come before any unconstitutional law that violates my civil and human rights.

    • Yes, a pipe dream indeed. As I understand it, and leaving all other issues aside, the State of California and the US Government would have to approve the secession, and that ain’t never gonna happen because the rest of the State wants and desperately needs our water.

  2. These reports sound more and more like a Robert Heinlein story ‘way back when; its point was that as the world gets crowded, there will be crazies no one can predict and who just get crazier.

  3. As Johannes notes, from start (entry) to finish (exit), this attack lasted fifteen seconds. The attack was literally out of the blue. By the time the clerk knew what was happening, it was already too late.
    Although Johannes wouldn’t know it, Burney is a small mountain community of about 3000 people where armed robberies are rare (and drug offenses are fairly common). The murder rate in the whole county for a long time was a couple a year, although homeless drug addicts have been knocking each other off, usually in knife fights, and the property crime rate, due to the same two factors, is about double the statewide average. Gang activity is pretty limited up there, especially at this time of year as the harvest is long past. There is a single deputy sheriff who has an office up there. The nearest trauma center is 60 miles away (and helicopter evacuations essentially mandatory for major injuries).
    Moreover, Shasta County Sheriff Bosenko is “virtually shall issue” for CCWs, although this man could have carried without one had is employer approved. The firearms safety certificate is $25, and the DROS charge another $25, hardly enough to dissuade most people from buying handguns (which along with rifles are pretty common in Burney).
    The community is just as shocked by this crime as by the kidnapping of Sheri Pappini, another crime for which there is no ready explanation.

  4. Saw this on the internet. F##ked up is an understatement. I’m not at all sure having a gun would’ve helped but that bastard murderer needs killing…RIP.

  5. I’m assuming that no matter how quickly this happened, Wicks could have put rounds on target long before ignition if he were armed.

    • I dunno, if someone comes in to my place of business and starts spraying gasoline around I’m gonna run as fast as I can shoot and the guy apparently didn’t do that…

  6. Sikhs very much believe in self defense to the point that a dagger and bracelet that doubles as a knuckle duster are supposed to be warn at all times. I wonder if this man had his dagger (not that it would have helped) and if he previously had any ideas about armed self defense (with a firearm)

  7. I came to believe a long time ago California was an immoral state. But it had nothing to do with sex.
    The Mumford Act was the beginning. Later the immorality of West Hollywood then San Francisco. And now the city of Palm Springs.
    Yes, they are immoral. But it has nothing to do with sex.
    Immorality has very little to do with sex. Most people are confused on this.

      • He reminds me of a sixteen year old girl who killed a school principal and teacher and wounded 10 kindergarten children in late 1979. The reason she gave was that she was bored. No other emotion. Just like this arsonist. No emotion.
        Being amoral is not a good choice.

  8. SARCASM INBOUND: We need all the anti-gun organizations to come together in solidarity to address this criminal lack of appropriate legislation against assault matches and accelerant !!! Clearly this heinous act is completely to blame on the matches and gasoline used and the perp was merely under the influence of these evil things….

    We need registration, licensing, waiting periods, taxes, and on and on it goes…

    This poor man died in perhaps one of the most terrible ways imaginable, my heartfelt condolences to his family and I hope that in time they can deal with his loss as a family.

    Please arm yourselves if you live in Call of Fornia, your life is in your hands everyday.

  9. The amount of energy in a cup (8 fluid ounces / 237mL) of gasoline surprised me. In a soup can, it’ll slowly burn for almost an hour. And IIRC, if properly vaporized in an enclosed space and lit, it’s detonation is equivalent to a stick of dynamite.

  10. I’d bet good money this was an attempted anti-Islamic killing but the murderous moron didn’t know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim. Ain’t the first time this has happened. Sigh.

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