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Guest Columnist

November 3, 2002

An Open Letter to the Sniper

By Melvin Durai

Dear Mr. Sniper:

You thought you were so smart, didn't you? You thought you could keep terrorizing us, keep shooting innocent people through the trunk of your blue Chevy Caprice, while the police searched for a white van with a ladder rack and picked up unlucky illegal aliens whose only crime was entering the country without first enrolling in flight school.

You thought you could outwit the police, the FBI, and all the people whose lives you were threatening, as though you were invisible. You thought you could evade justice forever, as though your last name were Simpson.

You learned to be a marksman in the Army, but instead of fighting the enemy, you decided to become the enemy. You bought a powerful rifle and began to hunt your fellow humans, because deer hunting was too much of a challenge for you. Far easier to stalk your prey at a gas station than to wait futilely in the woods, while all the animals, even the skunks, quickly disperse, wishing you had taken a bath.

You "adopted" a 17-year-old and deputized him as Sniper Junior. You were supposed to be a father figure, but the only figure you could think of was $10 million.  Enough cash to acquire houses, cars and boats -- even an arsenal of guns -- but no amount of money could buy what you needed the most: honor, virtue and a whole lot of character.

You were so heartless, you made David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz feel darn good about himself. He and other inmates exchanged hugs, saying, "Oh heavens. How can anyone be so bad?  Thank goodness he's on the outside!"

You didn't care if your victims were young or old, black or white, rich or poor.  Who did you think you were working for, the equal opportunity division of the mob?

The gun gave you a feeling of power, didn't it? So much power that you called yourself "God," as though God would be driving around in an old Chevy. Tell me something: If you were God, how come you couldn't give yourself a good haircut?

You must have enjoyed all the media attention, your 15 minutes of shame. You and Saddam Hussein dominated the coverage, making some viewers think CNN stood for Crazy Nut News.

It must have thrilled you that none of the so-called experts -- psychiatrists, profilers, detectives, lawyers -- could sketch an accurate picture of you. You were so confident, you taunted police about a shooting in Alabama, not realizing they'd find enough evidence to nail you. You thought you were so smart, but apparently not as smart as a moose. Particularly Police Chief Moose.

In the coming months, some people will argue that you shouldn't get the death penalty, that you'd suffer more in prison, especially if they let you watch the Anna Nicole Smith Show.

I've wavered on capital punishment myself. Is it a deterrent? Is it cruel? Is it barbaric?

But every now and then, a killer like you comes along, a cold-blooded, ruthless murderer who shows me what the debate should really be about: electric chair, lethal injection or special gas from Russia.

(c) Copyright 2002 Melvin Durai. All Rights Reserved.

Melvin Durai is an Indiana-based writer and humorist. A native of India, he grew up in Zambia and moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s. Read his previous columns at http://www.melvindurai.com

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