"It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood"

A few mornings ago, my wife and I took our dogs for a romp in Marine Park near our home in Brooklyn.  Another dog owner told us there had been a shooting over on Stuart Street by the school on the west edge of the park the night before.  We could even see a bit of the yellow tape along the street from the center of the park where our dogs were cavorting.  One person got on her cellphone and collected more information.

It turns out the alleged shooter was sometimes in the park with his dog, a German shepherd named Eva.  I don’t recall him, but my wife has spoken to him. 

The New York Times soon also had the story:

When a group of teenagers began to kick parked cars and rip open bags of garbage on a quiet street in Marine Park, Brooklyn, on Saturday night, a few residents ventured onto their front lawns and yelled at the group to leave. Others stayed indoors and watched from windows.

One neighbor, Thomas Dunikowski, 30, went further. A recent arrival on the block, Stuart Street, he got into a scuffle with one of the young men. Then he retreated into the house where he lived with his young family.

The next thing the neighbors heard above the shouting of unruly teenagers was rifle fire.

From an upstairs window, the police said, Mr. Dunikowski fired a semiautomatic rifle into the street, wounding at least two teenagers on the street below.

Rumor has it this wasn’t his first brush with anger, that he had slashed tires at the end of last year.

The story is that he shot from an upstairs window into the crowd of kids, perhaps as many as two dozen shots.  Supposedly, he then hid the rifle on the roof, got undressed and into bed, and pretended to have been there all along when police arrived.  He was charged with resisting arrest, so something else must have happened then.

What’s strangest about this is the number of people trying to excuse Dunikowski–including the mother of one young woman who was slightly wounded by a flying fragment:

The Brooklyn man who allegedly opened fire on a bunch of rowdy teens is a hero, not a menace, says the mother of one of his inadvertent victims.

Thomas Dunikowksi, who was arraigned on attempted-murder and weapons charges yesterday, was “just trying to protect us,” said Larisa Kaprovskaya, whose 21-year-old daughter was hit in the leg in the wild Saturday-night shooting.

“They started to come here and were kicking my car,” she said of the gang of 20 teens. “They were screaming at my face. They started to surround us. And then I heard the shooting. It was like the Fourth of July.”

Now, it may be true that police have been slow to respond to complaints about the kids around the park.  It may even be true that some of them are children of police officers.  It may also be true that there just isn’t enough for kids to do in the neighborhood.

But all of that is beside the point:

It is never OK to start shooting into an unarmed crowd.  No, it is never OK to start shooting into any crowd.

There is always another solution of some sort, even if it takes creative thinking to find it.

Dunikowski is no hero, not by any stretch of any imagination.  He did not protect anyone (not really–it was a group of kids, for crying out loud); he did not make anything better; he did not put himself at any risk.

One person, this morning when we were at the park again, started to say it was liberals that would be condemning Dunikowski.  My wife lit into him before he was even finished.  She wasn’t mean, but firm–and he had to concede the point that what the man did was inexcusable.

Most people in the neighborhood, to give them credit, agree.  But the fact that anyone at all would defend Dunikowski’s action is shocking.

And shows just how far we are drifting from the American ideal of a law-abiding society.