Murder? Hmmmph…

“Is he gonna make it?” The woman asked with no real concern in her voice. 

Her tone was so matter of fact that she may as well have been asking me about the weather or how my day was going.

“No,” I said. “I mean, I’m not a doctor, but no, there’s no way he’s going to make it.”

“Hmmmph,” was her response.

Hmmmph indeed. I thought to myself.

The man the woman was asking about lay dying next to his bullet riddled Camaro, about thirty yards away. I’d just asked her and the group she was with to step back a little so that I could hang some crime scene tape at yet another homicide scene in the City of St. Louis.

I don’t keep tabs on such things, but I believe that’s around 136 this year, if what I’d read was right. The local newspaper has taken to adding a line indicating the murder count in all of their articles related to murders in the City, and I believe that’s the number I’d read.

It’s that bad now.

Hmmmph bad.

The lady worked for or maybe owned a day care facility for little kids, and there were still kids waiting to be picked up by loved ones as this man was being tended to valiantly, though clearly futily, by EMS personnel.

As so many other people in the City have been recently, he’d just been shot.

His shirt was off and I could see the small puncture hole in his side. It didn’t look like much, and it certainly didn’t do justice to evidencing the violence that the projectile probably did once it passed through his skin.

Those pesky bullets tear through the skin and then ricochet off bone and tear through organs and veins and arteries and whatever else gets in the way before it either passes through the skin again during a violent exit, or nestles itself comfortably somwhere inside the victim’s body.

The lucky ones live to tell about it.

There are probably hundreds of people who’ve been shot or shot at in the City this year who didn’t add to the death tally. Everyday it seems a person is shot.

We’re lucky in the City to have two excellent trauma units at Barnes and SLU Hospitals. I’m always amazed at the number of people who get shot, sometimes multiple times, and live because of the skill of the teams of doctors and nurses in our City.

Many of these people drive themselves or are driven to the hospital without waiting on EMS. When every second counts, that’s probably a good idea.

For those who aren’t so lucky, their life often ends like this man’s near the daycare facility did, face down on a hot piece of concrete in a pool of their own blood in front of curious onlookers who will photograph or video a dying man’s last moments and do Lord knows what with the footage.


“Well what do you expect? This is Goodfellow and Amelia.” The woman said.

She was mostly being rhetorical, but that attitude can’t win the day. 

No matter where you live or work, a murder should bring outrage or fear or disbelief, not apathy.

Not Hmmmph.

On the day this man died, two journalists were killed in another part of the country as their killer videotaped their deaths.

Thankfully, there is outrage and grief and disbelief. There are loved ones who will demand action. They will demand legislation. They will demand research. They will at least demand something.

They did not say Hmmmph because that is a queer response to another human’s murder, even if the victim was no angel.

Nobody deserves Hmmmph, but in St. Louis City, that’s where we find ourselves. Unless a person is killed by a police officer, there is no public outrage, only indifference to what has become so common that we just say Hmmmph to the news of another person’s death.

Sadly, this murder that I touched on here isn’t even the most recent one in my City. Late last night, another man was killed on the South Side of the City, shot to death, of course.




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59 Responses to Murder? Hmmmph…

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    “Nobody deserves Hmmmph”—for sure. How sad that it’s come to that.

  2. jgroeber says:

    Beautifully written. I just keep thinking about those kids waiting to be picked up at the daycare center. When a grown-up teaches you that Hmmmph is the response to death you can’t grow up thinking your life is worth much. And so it continues…
    Stay safe. (So good to see you here. You’ve been missed.)

    • Thank you, lady! How have you been? I need to visit some of my favorite blogs more often. It’s just been so hectic at work and excuses excuses. Thank you for reading and commenting. I always appreciate it.

  3. Your post breaks my heart. I’m glad you wrote it.

  4. Ann Bobelak says:

    Don, you’re my kind of writer and I enjoy reading your posts — not always the subject matter, but how you share your feelings with us at home. I don’t envy you your job, or want to walk a mile in your shoes. There’s enough madness on the evening news to keep me up at night, and I’m not dealing with it first hand the way you do every day. I just want to say, thank you, and keep writing, keep loving your family, and keep on pedaling. Just stay safe for all of us. Sending hugs your way. Annie B.

  5. qwertygirl says:

    Stay safe, Officer Re! We need more cops like you.

  6. rossmurray1 says:

    Don, it’s been awhile. It’s been that kind of summer. Glad I made it back for this. This is powerful. This is good. Like, school-of-rhetoric good. Cool anger. Well said and well done.

  7. Ned's Blog says:

    This piece looks at reality without blinking. Thanks for the gaze. And the words to go with it.

  8. Jude says:

    Don, always enjoy your writings…sorry they mostly revolve around death, murders, nonchalant attitudes and dumb asses on the streets. Words escape me at the moment, cause I don’t know what to say, don’t know how to change attitudes and after this past year of unrest almost feel like the lady on the street.

    Then two trusting young journalists lives came to an abrupt end yesterday… another case of nut jobs not being treated for their illnesses. Let the next guy take care of them…and more people die.

    Wish I had an answer, and a more appropriate response. My deep down heart does care for the murdered people in STL, and believe most people do want to improve their lives.

    God Bless all the numbers 1 thru 137. Hopefully it won’t reach 138.

  9. claywatkins says:

    That is awful. We’ve become desensitized to violence – because in some parts of the country it’s commonplace. Sad. I teach 8th grade in the Chicago’s western suburbs and its candyland – so to speak. We’re a forty minute drive from the city and the violence – we’re at 302 according to sad. Hardly a hmpffff. I gotta find a way to share this with my kids who are mostly white (and affluent) who just don’t get it… They think it’s not their problem, hmmmpppphhh but, it is. It’s all of our problems. Peace

    • Thanks as always, Clay! How great it would be to start the dialogue about violence and helping where we can with the kids. I bet they’d really take it to heart and make a difference somehow, if they’re given the chance.

  10. I don’t know how you and most of the police officers / EMTs / fire fighters I know do it day in, day out.

  11. Gina says:

    Thank you for this. Everyone is valuable & every loss of life is tragic.

  12. Hmmmph is a terrible eulogy that nobody deserves. Your poignant and beautifully written blog post serves much better. Condolences to this poor soul’s family. 😦

  13. Learning the hard way says:

    Hey Don, got to say, that’s crazy depressing. I can’t imagine what the tipping point would have to be for the NRA to lose all the political traction they seem to have. Anyone pro gun reform must just despair. Great post, have missed our banter x

  14. corley598 says:

    You summed it up perfectly.

  15. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I am so grateful to you for sharing your point of view, as harrowing or difficult as it may be for you to rewrite-relive some of them.

  16. Hi Don. Another sad sorry tale. But in truth many on this side of the pond (Europe) are also going ‘Hmmmph’ when they hear of yet more gun deaths in USA and the incredible awful (as most of them see it) reluctance to do diddly squat about access to guns in the good ol’ US of A. Its beyond our comprehension. Have also made similar comments on you posts in the past and just ruffled a few feathers of those who felt I should just keep my Euro trap shut. Anyway thanks for the post. You can only shine a light. Thanks for doing that at least. MB

    • Thanks as always, Michael. Hope all is well where you are. I did follow some of your back and forth regarding that gun control debate, and I marveled at how uncivilized the discussion gets when really, a sensible discussion about the issue is important.

  17. Elyse says:

    What a sad commentary on the end of someone’s life. Hmmmmmmm. What a harsh society we’ve become.

    Thanks for writing this. We are all rightly outraged by the journalists’ deaths yesterday, and by a thousand more senseless, well publicized deaths. But we are making it easier and easier to kill, and easier and easier to just turn away afterwards.

  18. Paul says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us Don. It is depressing but needed to be said. Excellent writing.

  19. Kristi Campbell - findingninee says:

    Nobody ever deserves a Hmmmmmph. Ever. That we are used to gunshots and guns and people shooting each other just makes me sick.
    Love you.

  20. Cheryl says:

    We’ve become so desensitized to the violence in our society thanks, in my opinion, to the constant barrage of these images by the media and the “information highway”. Hmmmph, indeed. It’s a sad commentary on our society’s current state of mind. Well written, Don, as usual.

  21. adamjasonp says:

    Sadness, and a bit of anger. No apathy, no “Hmmmph” here.

  22. Pingback: Murder? Hmmmph… | HX Report

  23. Agreed… Well said. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Sadly, the crowd mentality has congealed itself and the weary are left worn, weary and deadened by the brutality.

    As a society we are in trouble when we respond to such a heinous crime with a crude indifference.

    My prayers and hope that we never give up on ourselves, that we dig down deep and work to find a way out of this heinous mess.

    • I share your sentiment about never giving up on ourselves! There is so much good, but good is boring and doesn’t sell papers. I hope we turn this thing around before it’s too late.

      • The media is partially to blame, but the politico’s need to take a good, hard look at themselves. The “Black Lives Matter” campaign and the constant theme of ‘political correctness’ have to be readdressed. As Sherriff Hickman of the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s office pointed out today: “All lives matter!”

        I saw my son-in-law graduate from the California Highway Patrol Academy in June. I can’t adequately express my love and gratitude for this young man.

        To see any of you targeted because of your uniform is an absolute insanity. How did we get here? There are several ways to evaluate it, but the number one reason: a total lack of respect for those in authority. And where did the young learn this? Inside the walls of the place they call home.

        Stay safe, and thank you for serving.

  25. Shaking my head violently. What a tragedy, both the death and the reaction.

  26. Heartbroken In STL says:

    The victim of this senseless crime in broad daylight was my little cousin. It breaks my heart to read that another human being had so little regard for my loved ones life. My family has never experienced this kind of loss before so it’s a different kind of hurt. Your article was very well written. Thank you for the acknowledgment & respect because as stated regardless of the neighborhood or the victims lifestyle nobody deserves a hmmph…

    • I’m very sorry for your family’s loss. It’s those who are left behind by the dead who really feel the most pain, and I hope your family is able to find comfort somehow.

  27. firebailey says:

    It is heartbreaking how we seem to have become no longer shocked when tragedy happens. Thank you for putting that into words and with such respect for all involved

  28. Paul says:

    As an aside Don, I did a guest post over at Cordelia’s Mom I would be honored if you could find the time to drop by for a read. Thank You.

  29. OneBusyMama says:

    It is so sad to see what the world is coming to. Why must there be so much death, destruction, and anger? I don’t understand. I probably never will because even in the worst of times I usually have hope that things could be worse and that things WILL get better….eventually. I hate turning on the tv and seeing from our local big city what you are talking about.

    I felt like this was a powerful post and I’m so glad I scrolled back to see and read it! I agree with a previous commenter….even if I am not in love with the subject or reason for your blog…I always enjoy reading it! So many different emotions! Welcome again and stay safe!

    • I don’t even think the woman meant anything negative by her retort so much as it’s just that expected nowadays. We need to get back to murders being something that is appalling to us.

  30. Pingback: When did life lose value? | Life Is A Lil CrAzY

  31. markbialczak says:

    You know it, Don. I’m with you. How can it not matter?

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