I didn’t even know his name

Evidently, our neighbor was shot yesterday. I have only a few details from a couple of the dozens of people at the house next door. I’m not sure of this kind of neighborly protocol … do I ask a bunch of questions to show I care, or do I respect their privacy and retreat into my house?

Last night our doorbell rang and it was a police chaplain asking about our neighbors. Did we know when they’d be home? The family next door was always friendly, waving, smiling and nodding to each other when we were outside together, like good neighbors do. But we didn’t even know their names; so, no, we didn’t know when they’d be home.

I thought, though, “this isn’t good.” There’s really only one reason a police chaplain would show up unannounced at a neighbor’s door. I prayed I was wrong.

This morning, as I was leaving for work, the cars started piling into their driveway. Often they’re leaving the house when I leave, it’s very unusual to have people arrive at that time. This isn’t good, I thought.

When I turned onto my street this afternoon, it was questionable whether or not I could even get into my driveway … the cul-de-sac was filled with parked cars and people … some children, some older men, but mostly young men in their twenties. Some of the young men hanging out in the street waved me into my driveway. When I asked what was going on, they told me that the oldest son of the couple next door was killed yesterday.

“They killed him,” the young man said. “He was shot.” I really don’t know any more. The family and friends were coming in and out all evening … I expect this could go on for a few days.

I feel awful about the death of the young man. I don’t even know his name.

Mostly, I’m struck by the closeness of violence in all of our lives. Shootings at schools, universities, NASA, and apartment buildings … and now, it’s my neighbor. There are just way too many shootings, when will we confront the issues that contribute to our violent culture?

Really, I don’t know if this man was an accident victim, a target for murder, an innocent by-stander, or involved in a police confrontation. But, right now I’m not sure it matters. I am grieving with the family next door … and I don’t even know their names.

EDIT: His name was Ramiro.  Here’s the story in Tuesday’s Baytown Sun.