While murder and mayhem has become commonplace in Little Rock, a story from this weekend was shocking enough for even people used to the city's skyrocketing crime rate to take notice.
It seems a couple of teenage thugs decided to shoot an ice cream vendor on Saturday. It seems 23-year-old Holly Crain had the audacity to try to make a living by selling ice cream in southwest Little Rock when a couple of punks hot her inside her ice cream van.
Crain, fortunately, appears to be recovering just fine. She told the cops a couple of toughs demanded money from her while she was on the job. She handed it over and then was shot by one of the grateful kids. Two 16-year-olds connected to the shooting have been nabbed and charged with robbery, theft and attempted murder.
Folks, that whole story is just pitiful and stands as more proof at what a filthy cesspool our capitol city has become. Not even an ice cream vendor is safe in Little Rock these days? What the hell is going on in that city, anyway?
I've become used to hearing about shootings in Little Rock. The fact an ice cream vendor was shot strikes me as particularly pitiful, however. Perhaps the ice cream salesmen should consider purchasing some heavy armor and armed escorts.
Actually, this month has been fairly atypical for Little Rock so far. Sure, we're used to turning on the evening news here in central Arkansas and hearing about the latest shootings in Little Rock, but the ice cream incident was unusual. One that was downright detestable happened last week when two soldiers were shot outside an Army recruitment center in west Little Rock.
In that incident, one soldier -- Quinton Ezeagwula -- survived while the other one -- 23-year-old William Long of Conway, Ark. -- did not. The shooter, 23-year-old Carlos Bledsoe, has been caught and charged in connection with the shooting.
It turns out that shooter was born Carlos Bledsoe but changed his name to Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. He's a Little Rock resident and a Muslim with a chip on his shoulder. Neither one of those facts is particularly surprising.
"I wouldn't live in Little Rock if you gave it to me," my grandfather once said.
I do believe he was right. My family is from Benton, which is located about 20 miles southwest of Little Rock. I live in Benton, too, but work in Little Rock like over half the workforce here in Saline County (seriously -- the Benton Chamber of Commerce has stats to back up that statement).
Back around 1981, Saline County lost its major employers when Alcoa and Reynolds packed up and left the area. Nothing has emerged to replace the jobs that were lost back then so a lot of us head to Little Rock to work.
Meanwhile, plenty of Little Rock residents who have gotten sick of the crime and nastiness of Little Rock have fled to Benton and Bryant in Saline County, Cabot in Lonoke County and Conway in Faulkner County. It is the hope of a lot of residents in Saline County and other areas that have grown due in part to the exodus from Little Rock that we'll attract some employers as populations grow.
That would suit me just fine. I'm sick of the commute and it would appear that you never know when someone in Little Rock will show up waving a gun around and shooting people. Just this month, we've had a couple of soldiers shot while standing outside of a recruitment center and an ice cream vendor shot for (apparently) the sheer hell of it.
Over the past 10 months, we've also had the chairman of the Arkansas Democrat Party shot dead in his office in Little Rock, a television reporter killed in her bed in the Heights (one of the better areas of town) and a bunch of diners at two Waffle Houses terrified as those stores were robbed at gunpoint within minutes of each other. Actually, that was kind of a funny story -- the crook stopped to demand a sandwich while he was robbing the Waffle House on West Markham and got shot in the butt by the cops when he ran out of the restaurant.
Of course, you've had a lot of people get shot and killed over the past 12 months in Little Rock. It's hard to keep up with them all because shooting happen about as frequently as the weather changes in that town.
At any rate, granddad was right. Little Rock isn't worth a damn.