We’re relieved to see the relatively swift arrests in the tragic shooting death of 21-year-old Medina High School graduate and SUNY Brockport student Cheyenne Farewell.
We’re also saddened to see the ages of the two suspects — a pair of young teens that authorities identified on Wednesday as being just 16 and 17 years old.
As has now been widely reported, Farewell was killed and five others were injured on Saturday when shots were fired at a Halloween party that involved dozens of guests at a home on South Niagara Street in Lockport.
The two suspects, who were arrested on Wednesday, are now facing felony charges of intentional murder and criminal weapons possession. Due to their ages, they are currently being processed through the juvenile court system. As such, their names have been withheld from the public although authorities indicated on Wednesday that they are likely to be processed through the court system as adults.
While their identities are not yet known, the ages of these suspects speaks volumes about the issues we are facing as a community and as a society where violent crimes are concerned.
Clearly, a larger discussion needs to be had about how it is a pair of teenagers come to acquire illegal firearms in a state with some of the strictest gun laws in America.
Beyond that, we should try to understand what happened in the lives of two young individuals in the run-up to their decision to simply open fire on a group of party goers, indiscriminately taking the life of a young woman who was just beginning to realize her full potential.
The loss of Cheyenne Farewell is stunning and sad for her loved ones, her friends and the community at large.
The likely loss of any sort of real future for the two teens who are now accused of pulling the trigger is a different sort of tragedy, one we should all consider confronting before a similar thing happens again.
While Lockport is the site of the latest fatal shooting in Niagara County, the shooting that robbed Cheyenne Farewell of her young life is just the latest in a string that has included a total of nine homicides involving shootings in the City of Niagara Falls.
Other shooting incidents have occurred as well throughout 2020. Thankfully, they did not end in fatalities but easily could have.
What authorities often see in these cases are people on the younger side of life finding their way to possession of firearms that they are willing to use despite the potential consequences.
Yes, at times these incidents do involve accomplished drug dealers or individuals tied to gangs.
There are times, however, when these sort of incidents involve young people with street beefs who choose to settle their differences by firing bullets at their foes because, we suppose, they just don’t know how to manage their emotions any better.
It’s bad enough to see angry and misguided youngsters shooting at one another because they feel as though they have been slighted or wronged somehow.
The situation is worsened whenever those seeking street justice wind up hitting innocent bystanders in the process.
Law-abiding residents in Lockport, Niagara Falls and other parts of Niagara County should not have to worry about people walking around or driving around while opening fire, often in broad daylight.
Still, the state’s gun laws do not appear to be enough to deter such activity and, clearly, there are larger issues involved here, including things like upbringing, parenting, education, self respect and general mental health and wellness.
We cannot replace Cheyenne Farewell or any of the other victims of senseless gun violence, nor can we undo the tragic consequences of misguided people - some of them in just their teens and 20s - who commit violent crimes and will rightfully be expected to deal with the long-term consequences of their misguided actions.
It’s not an easy process and there are no clear-cut solutions or answers, but perhaps our goal from this point forward should be a greater focus on finding ways to prevent such tragedies from happening in the first place.
As several officials said during Wednesday’s press conference announcing the arrest of the teenagers in the shooting case, it’s time to put an end to the childish decision-making and the random acts of violence and, most importantly, time to put the guns down.