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Bad Beginnings

I know it's 2007, but it's starting to feel a lot like 1994. It's all those bullets flying I guess. News of babies and retirees being shot takes you back to the crime wave of the early 90s that started towards the end of another Bush's stay in the White House. I was in Fort Myers at the time, covering cocaine murders and gang violence. It was a good time to be on the cops beat but a bad time for most everybody else (especially German tourists).

The gang violence in Palm Beach County, the slaying of the Mexican family on I-95, the homeless beatings in Broward, and the spate of teen homicides in Miami-Dade ... it all has the feel of that dark time -- and crime numbers, as the Sun-Sentinel editorialists pointed out today, show why. They're rising fast. My neighbor told me on New Year's Eve that he'd checked the Sentinel web site and there were five murder stories at the top of the homepage. And we've seen more than your average, run-of-the-mill killings too. I mean, who can forget the shootout at the Boynton Beach Mall on Christmas Eve? As that first Bush would say, "It's bad."

And invigorating for those who report on crime. A look at today's Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald proves that. The Post's

Rochelle E.B. Gilken and Jill Taylor report on the eight-month-old baby who was killed in the crossfire of assault weapons in Riviera Beach. The baby's mother and a few other people were shot in what looks like a drug dispute that found more than one innocent victim. Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams, who has a steel-trap grasp of the obvious, explained their problem: "It appears as though maybe they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The boy's father, Tavares Carter Sr., wasn't around at the time. He was in jail on charges of trying to hire a hit man to off the deputy who arrested him on drug charges. Not a sympathetic character, really, but the Post landed an interview with him in the jail and you couldn't help but to feel a little sorry for the guy as he was "sobbing into his cuffed hands."

It was the first homicide of the year in Palm Beach County, with many, many more expected. The Miami Herald's Natalie P. McNeal gives us the scoop on the first Broward murder in 2007, of an effete restaurant writer named Michael Shrader. McNeal writes:

Tired of the New York hustle and bustle and brutal winters, Schrader moved to Florida.

But his Florida transition turned out to be tougher than expected.

On New Year's Day, he was murdered in his one-bedroom condo in the Somerset complex in Lauderdale Lakes. A trail of blood led to his third-floor apartment. The death was Broward's first homicide of 2007.

Miami Herald

Yeah, that's got to be "tougher than expected" and, as neighbors pointed out later in the story, "less than ideal." The poor guy was mugged twice since moving to the Lakes as well. While the neighbors are freaking out, it should come as some relief to them that it looks like Schrader wasn't randomly executed. More a domestic situation involving a 20-something male "friend" that took up house with him for a time. Schrader kicked the guy out, but he kept coming around demanding money. This has sociopathic gay hustler written all over it.

Speaking of executions, there's a lot being made of the Saddam Hussein hanging these days. Quite the show, apparently. I finally watched the tape. It's a bit eerie and it's here if you want to take a look at it.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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