Six years & four guns later ...
So, it turns out that alleged Pittsburgh cop shooter James Robert Hill is a recidivist illegal gun toter who benefited from a legal system that was out to lunch, kept cutting him slack and allowed him to wriggle away. How outrageous. And it goes to the heart of the current debate over more stringent gun-control laws.
Mr. Hill, 24, is accused of critically shooting one Pittsburgh police officer Thursday last and injuring another officer in a Homewood fight and firefight. Police were pursuing him for blowing a stop sign. Police, necessarily, returned the lethal force favor; Hill is hospitalized with gunshot wounds of his own.
But this is a shootout that never should have happened. And it wouldn't have happened had the legal system done its job.
Hill is no stranger to police or to the courts. As the Trib reported on Friday, he first was charged in October 2007 with illegally carrying a gun. Jailed for a month following his arrest, he was found not guilty by an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge 11 months later.
Four months after that, in January 2009, another arrest — resisting, assault, threats. Oh, and there was another gun.
Three months after that, while out on bond and awaiting trial, yet another arrest — more assault charges, more threats.
Four months later, in August 2009, a drug arrest. Oh, and another gun.
But that, of course, is not the end of the story.
Hill was supposed to be serving a 3-to-6-year prison term imposed by another Common Pleas judge in May 2010. He later ended up in a halfway house, which he walked away from a year ago.
Six years and four guns later, he tried to kill two cops.
“It's been a tough upbringing for him ... it's a tough environment for young people,” Milton Raiford, an attorney representing the family, told a reporter.
But obviously tougher for the criminal justice system to corral him.
What idiot decided that this irreformable criminal was worthy of rehabilitation and deserving of the halfway-house treatment?
And rest assured, this kind of garbage is not an isolated incident. Police all over the country, and for years, have been complaining about a criminal justice system that regularly serves up grave injustice involving hardened bad actors by repeatedly giving them passes for illegally having guns.
How many times are gun charges plea-dealed away?
How many more cops will be shot and/or killed by the beneficiary of such idiocy?
And what idiot or idiots will point, in warped fashion, to the James Robert Hill case as being representative of the need for more gun control? To what end — to treat the new laws with the same disdain, derision and bargaining-chip flippancy as the old laws and, in the process, further infringe on the law-abiding to exercise their Second Amendment rights?
In other bizarre gun war news ...
• Wythe Keever, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says the teachers union doesn't “think it's in the best interests of public school safety to be arming educators or other school staff.”
So, the PSEA will be paying funeral expenses for educators, staff and children left as sitting ducks, right?
Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- Man, child hit by car late Saturday in South Side
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Missing man found in Garfield
- Police: Maine man shoots off firework from top of head, dies
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Starkey: Bring back the Brawl!
- Grandmother of boy dropped at Uniontown Hospital says he’s in ICU
- Apollo-Ridge’s Tipton, Connellsville’s Wiltrout are Pittsburgh Trib’s Athletes of the Year