When someone is killed, who do you feel sorry for — the victim or the murderer?
Of course you feel sorry for the victim. The person who is killed during a heinous act did not deserve what happened to them. Therefore, it is much easier to sympathize with those who are harmed instead of feeling sorry for the person who took a life.
It’s so easy to choose the side of good over evil because we want to be on the right side.
But what happens to those who were related to an “evil” person who harms others?
Take the officer-involved shooting in Fargo for example. We have Officer Jason Moszer, who gave his life protecting others. He wanted to make sure the community he served was safe, and in doing so he lost his life when Marcus Schumacher fatally shot him.
People across the country did not hesitate to come to the aid of Moszer’s family. His tragic and wrongful end pierced the hearts of North Dakotans, as well as others. Organizations and individuals rushed to support his family and to pay tribute to his service.
It was a testament to how a community pulls together in the face of tragedy.
This scenario plays out almost every time there is a tragedy, especially when someone causes harm to others. If there is anything positive that comes out of such a travesty, it’s that complete strangers help those whose lives are destroyed. They try to do everything possible to make life easier for the victims’ loved ones so they may mourn properly.
But too often we forget the not-so-obvious victims — the family of the perpetrator. It’s so easy to think of the suspect as an evil person, to label him or her a criminal and be done with it. We forget he or she is a person, that they are not evil, but rather they did something bad.
This is not to defend anyone who commits crime, especially murder. But in the process of labeling a person evil, we forget he or she was human, that he or she has a family who is left behind and are mourning. If a perpetrator is killed during a situation, a family is not just left with a loss. They may never know why their loved one decided to kill another person. They are reminded in newspapers and on TV that a relative did something awful and that the world may despise him. And on top of the funeral costs and realizing they will never see that person again, they are reminded: my loved one will be remembered as an evil person, and when someone sees me walking down the street, I will be associated with evil.
But there is one difference with the case of the Fargo standoff versus any other crime, a difference we hardly see: people are pulling together to help the shooter’s family.
Fargo Police Chief David Todd asked the public to support the Schumacher family, who called police to help diffuse a dangerous domestic violence situation. Others are coming together to make sure the Schumachers are not forgotten because they did not ask for Marcus Schumacher to do this. They asked for help.
Police did everything they could to help the family, but sometimes fate does not allow for such situations to be resolved peacefully.
No one expected anyone to support the Schumachers. Some, including Forum News Service’s Mike McFeely, called for support. And some in the community have delivered. A Facebook page has been set up so those who wish to can offer their support to the Schumachers, and a fundraiser for them is in the works. People are pulling together to make sure a family who never asked to be involved in such a horrible crime is taken care of.
This should serve as an example for the rest of the country — the stigma of evil should not be used to define anyone, and we should always reach out to help those in need, no matter what side others perceive they are on.
Fargo should be proud of how this catastrophe has been handled. They didn’t just draw lines between good and evil. They truly are willing to help their neighbors and strangers, and history will remember not that a man shattered the lives of so many but rather a community came together to keep each other strong and move forward. And not a single victims will be forgotten.
Stay strong, Fargo. We got you.