Skip to comments.Massachusetts Gun Laws Turn Store Full of Customers into Cowering Targets*
Posted on 12/16/2003 7:39:23 AM PST by pabianice
Shootings always surprise
People never expect eruption of violence
WORCESTER, MA --Here are some things we can count on when an unexpected act of violence breaks out in our back yard:
The assailant is invariably described by those who know him as a nice, mild-mannered guy who would never be capable of doing such a thing.
Witnesses are always shocked - absolutely shocked - because they watch such violence on television but never expect to see it themselves.
"My God," an employee of Lowe's was telling me yesterday, two hours after a gunman opened fire inside the sprawling home improvement warehouse and shot two people. "Everyone here is absolutely shocked. You see stuff like this on television all the time, but you never expect it in your back yard."
In Spencer, meanwhile, David Anderson was reacting to news that a man he knows - his daughter's brother-in-law - allegedly drove to Lowe's in his Chevy pickup truck and shot two people with a semi-automatic handgun.
"He always seemed very nice and polite and mild-mannered," said Mr. Anderson of the man who allegedly compiled a hit list of people to kill. "This is completely out of character, to say the least. But who really knows why someone would do something like this?"
Cliches are cliches for a reason - they're steeped in truth. No one expects to see a bloodied shooting victim stagger into the frame of a department store security camera in broad daylight. But such a video was shown to police yesterday as they searched frantically for Mark Lebreton of Auburn, alleged shooter and widely considered nice guy, who was described as "extremely dangerous" last night by Auburn Police Chief William E. Stone.
"We believe him to be very, very dangerous," Chief Stone said. "He said he'd kill any police officer who stopped him."
Chief Stone said Auburn police were alerted moments before the shooting by Mr. Lebreton's brother, Oxford police Officer Kevin Lebreton, who reported that his 38-year-old brother was armed and suicidal. As police began to respond to that report, they heard on the police scanner that Worcester police were rushing to a shooting at Lowe's that involved a white pickup truck. Chief Stone said police were aware that Mr. Lebreton drove such a truck; they went to his home on Boyce Street, blocked off the street and brought his distraught wife to police headquarters.
According to Lowe's employees, Mr. Lebreton drove to the store shortly after 4 p.m. and could be seen on the security camera entering through the lumber area. He was dressed in jeans, snow boots and a knit cap and was wielding a handgun. He allegedly walked into the commercial sales area and confronted Steve Collins, a plumber and subcontractor for Lowe's, who reportedly had done some work for Mr. Lebreton, a contractor who owns Lebreton & Son. The men engaged in a heated argument because Mr. Collins reportedly wanted to end their business relationship.
Four people, all employees, witnessed all or part of the shooting. The store's surveillance film shows one of the victims, a young employee named Jim Walling, stagger into view and fall to the floor with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Seconds later, Mr. Collins is seen holding his neck and then falling in front of a cash register. Mr. Lebreton then allegedly walked calmly from the store and drove off in his truck while shocked customers screamed and headed for the exits.
"If you didn't know that two people had just been shot, you'd never know from watching him," an employee said. "He was very calm and almost nonchalant." Mr. Lebreton also reportedly had made out a "hit list" that contained several names, but it was not clear last night whether Mr. Collins was on the list.
Mr. Walling is expected to survive his injury. Mr. Collins was in critical condition last night. Eight shots in all were fired by the assailant, in full view of customers and staff, 10 days before Christmas, in a store that sells faucet washers and lightbulbs and two-by-fours.
"Everyone here is very jumpy," the Lowe's employee said. "This happened almost two hours ago, and my heart is still pounding right now."
As police continued their search for Mr. Lebreton last night, those who know him said they couldn't reconcile the violent incident with the good-looking, friendly contractor who rarely raised his voice and seemed to enjoy his work.
Mr. Anderson said Mr. Lebreton, along with Mr. Lebreton's brother, Brian, helped him build a garage for his Spencer home a little more than a year ago.
"He did an excellent job, and you could tell he knew what he was doing," Mr. Anderson said. "He just seemed like a normal, happy fellow. I never even heard him swear, and I never heard anything but good things about him. This is totally out of his character, big time. Why would he do this? This is really a shock."
Chief Stone said Mark Lebreton had a "run-in" several months ago with a neighbor that appeared to be resolved, but was otherwise not known to police. Chief Stone said he met yesterday with Brian Lebreton, who could offer no motive or explanation for his brother's alleged violence.
"He had absolutely no idea why he would do something like this," Chief Stone said.
We've heard it before, haven't we? Someone snaps and everyone is shocked. And somewhere else, perhaps soon, maybe at another store not typically meant to host a hail of bullets, we'll most certainly hear it again. And there's nothing we can do but count on it.
Dianne Williamson can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A huge warehouse store filled with hundreds of customers, all reduced to targets by Massachusetts' most punative gun laws in the country.
What a foul nest Liberals make.
It doesn't surprise me that the shooting was at Lowes. These stores have the most ignorant, incompetent and indifferent employees of any major home improvement chain I have ever seen. They make up for what they don't know with a blank stare or rude rebuke. Not that this justifies shooting, it doesn't. But the management of Lowes is one of the best examples of how not to run a store that deals with the construction trade. As a contractor, I only send my people there as a last resort.
That is the same as saying Saddam was evil because he kicked his dog, a little understatement. (Yes, I work at Lowes)
Do you think that that particular police chief ever finds adequate "good cause" to issue a CCW to any of the residents of Lowell?
Reading that in the newspaper was the point at which I firmly resolved NEVER to live in the state of Massachusetts.
Yes, gun control, and the refusal to accept responsibility for your own preservation.
The deterrent effect of firearms ownership and carry is a psychological effect. Where the carrying of arms is relatively unrestricted potential criminals "know" it is more likely that someone else is carrying who will fight back.
"An armed society is a polite society."
In Mass. it may be possible to legally carry but everyone, goblins included, know it is unlikely. The general mentality (known to all,) from the popular press and the gooberment on down, in states like Mass. is the mentality of "victicrat", "surrender monkey" and "sheeple." Obviously not shared by all, as we have many Mass. FReepers, that is the political norm; the "culture de jure."
"Resistance isn't futile; it's gauche."
Well as long as you've opened up the subject;
1. Why do you have a CCW? Are you in law enforcement or some special case?
2. Massacusetts is not a "shall issue" state. How easy is it for the average law-abiding citizen to get a permit?
3. How many people do you know have a CCW, other than law enforcement types?
Just because none of those 300 or so customers chose not to carry a gun, doesn't mean they weren't allowed to.
Are most of these customers really "allowed to", or is Joe Citizen with a CCW just a rare exception - somebody to be kept from having a CCW?
P.S. (check out the tag line)
Pointing to his head: "The weapons are all in here. The rest is just hardware".
I've never been in a Lowes' but that's been my experience at the local Home Depot.
Massachusettes is a "may issue" state. Local law enforcement can restrict whoever they want based on their records.
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