Gun violence in the United States took yet another heinous turn this week. As officials on the national scene continue to grapple with the continuing fallout from mass shooting after mass shooting including a recent high profile incident in southern California, an Alabama district attorney — Democrat Greg Griggers, serving the state’s 17th Judicial Circuit — was shot in the face this Thursday while sitting in his car outside his office. He is expected to survive, but the assailant — a former state trooper named Steven Smith, Jr. — was shot dead on the spot by a current law enforcement officer.
Smith was dismissed from the force all the way back in the 90s in connection to what’s actually a similar incident. He faced questioning over a shooting attack on a Sumter County, Alabama judge’s home that left no one injured but constituted a hate crime — the targeted judge, Eddie Hardaway, was the first black magistrate to preside in the area. Smith testified before a special grand jury that was impaneled to handle the case but produced no charges. He reportedly owned a car matching witnesses’ description of what the shooter had been driving. The specific stated reason for his firing was that he spoke about the case with reporters, violating policy.
As of late Thursday afternoon, there’s no obvious motive for his attack on Griggers.
Michael Jackson, who serves as district attorney for the state’s 4th Judicial Circuit, asserted:
‘They say he’s going to recover. I’ve got an investigator going down there right now, and they’re going to give me updates.’
Commander of the 17th Judicial Circuit’s drug task force Clint Sumlin is staying with Griggers in the hospital for “security purposes,” according to his testimony to local media.
U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s Northern District Jay E. Town issued a statement:
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the Greg and his family. District Attorney Griggers is a dedicated public servant and an honorable man. This serves as yet another reminder of the perils and dangers that law enforcement at every level face daily.’
A police officer was, in fact, among the dead left by the mentioned recent shooting attack in southern California. Sgt. Ron Helus responded to the shooting scene at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, and ended up among a dozen dead.
In that instance, just as in the Alabama incident, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters soon after it unfolded:
‘We have no idea what the motive is at this point.’
Similarly, after a gunman attacked a Tallahassee, Florida yoga studio leaving two dead and killing himself, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters:
‘We have no evidence linking him to anybody in the class, at the class or at the studio. Why the yoga studio? What is the connection?’
Altogether, as of late Thursday afternoon, 12,764 Americans have died from gun violence and 24,705 have been left injured. Those numbers include 584 children 11 or younger who have been killed or injured and 2,475 people from 12 to 17. They also include 311 documented mass shootings.