'Senseless Violence'

This morning I woke to the sad, heartbreaking news that another American police officer had been shot and killed.

When I heard it was a Richardson police officer, it hit closer to home - I work in Richardson. Then, I dug into the story a bit further and learned it was even closer to home than I thought - the shooting occurred at an apartment complex that Jenna and I lived in just a few years ago. It’s just a few miles away from where we live now, and neighbors confirmed that the noise we heard last night was a low-flying police helicopter responding to the scene after the officer was shot.

As I started my day, I was thinking - how does something like this happen here? This isn’t a “bad part of town”. That wasn’t “one of those” apartment complexes. It happened at 7PM on a Wednesday evening right in the middle of the area I spend most of my days, between home and the office. You hear the term ‘senseless violence’ a lot in these situations - sadly, just earlier this week a police officer was shot and killed in Colorado Springs in what the sheriff there called senseless violence. The true senselessness of it all, though, doesn’t sink in until it happens in your own neighborhood and you see first hand how senseless it really is.

As I went about my morning I kept checking for updates, wondering how this happened. That’s when I saw an image of a Richardson Police Department badge with the black line over it showing support for a fallen officer, with the name “D. Sherrard” written next to it. Sherrard - I know a Sherrard. I know a David Sherrard. And David’s a police officer somewhere in the area.

Double checking all the news articles, the police department still isn’t releasing the name of the officer that was killed. Surely it was another D. Sherrard, surely David worked for another department other than Richardson. But no, that’s when I start seeing Facebook posts pop up from old friends, sharing their memories of David and expressing their love and support of his wife Nicole and their two children, and I realize - this shooting, this murder, this ‘senseless violence’ wasn’t just close to home, it wasn’t just in the middle of where I work and live, it took the life of a man that I had the privilege to grow up with many, many years ago.

I knew David growing up but sadly I didn’t keep in touch with him after high school. However, not too long ago I ran into him at a restaurant near where we live. I didn’t recognize him at first, but he immediately remembered me and gave me the warmest, friendliest greeting, like no time at all had passed since we had last talked. We were both in a rush, so we didn’t chat long, but I learned that he had a family and like me, he had found his way to this part of the Metroplex to settle down.  We talked about catching up sometime soon, something that I will now always regret never following up on.

I’m heartbroken this morning. A great man, a husband, a father, a son, a friend, a SWAT officer that has saved so many lives in the past, is gone. His life, and the life of a civilian were both ended last night by shots from a 26 year old man who survived, but is now charged with a capital crime in Texas, meaning his life is effectively over now as well. And from that one incident, from these three lives, there are thousands of other lives that have been harmed.

I don’t want to make this about the shooter, about my own grief, or about guns - although, I am challenging myself to reconsider my thoughts about guns as David is at least the second person that I’ve known that was murdered with a gun. Instead, my thoughts right now are focused on two groups of people. First and foremost, David’s wife, Nicole Sherrard and their children. Nicole and David have been together for 20 years - the majority of their lives. I can’t imagine what Nicole is going through right now, but I’m comforted knowing that there are friends and family surrounding her and her children now.

The other person I’m thinking about as I process all of this is you - each of you reading this. We hear all too often that life is short, that we should appreciate each day and express our love for one another because we never know which opportunity will be our last. And yet so many of us worry and fret and spend our time focused on so many things that in our last moments we’ll realize weren’t nearly as important as we thought they were. So, yes, life is short. David didn’t wake up yesterday thinking it was his last day on earth. ‘Senseless violence’ is exactly that - senseless. There is no pattern, no way to know it’s coming for you or a loved one that particular day. I don’t think David would want us to live our lives fearing this, though - instead, we should focus on loving each other, being present for each other and treating each day as the gift it is.

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Jamie Larson