02/14/11 — The facts: Police brutality? That claim is a stretch in Cary bank holdup

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The facts: Police brutality? That claim is a stretch in Cary bank holdup

News this morning from Cary police that the 19-year-old who robbed a bank and held seven people hostage was not armed has some of his friends and family crying foul.

And while it might be true that the Devon Mitchell they knew "would never have hurt anyone," the truth is that he held seven people in terror for three hours -- and came out with a hostage and an object he led police to believe was a gun held to that person's head.

So whether he was unarmed or not is immaterial.

This young man led everyone to believe he was threatening the life of a hostage. He did not come out with his hands up or tell anyone that he was ready to end the standoff peacefully.

He threatened an innocent person's life. What were police supposed to do? Take a chance that he was not serious or that the "gun" might not fire?

Mitchell determined his own fate -- and that is how we should look at it, period.

One of the biggest problems in society these days is getting people to understand that they are responsible for their own futures.

If they choose to take drugs and become addicts, they are going to lose their families and their livelihoods.

And if they decide to take seven people hostage and try to escape by pretending they will shoot one of them, they take the risk that they will die.

Mitchell's friends say he was troubled and that this event was out of character for the young man.

And while that might make his story sad, it does not mean that his end was not justified -- or that there was an excuse for his behavior.

If it turns out that Mitchell's family circumstance contributed to his decision to rob a bank, perhaps it is time to look for others to be held responsible for the path they set him on.

It is certainly a way to teach parents of more than just this criminal that their choice to raise children comes with responsibilities -- and accountability.

Published in Editorials on February 14, 2011 10:38 AM