At this point in the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are so many stories about schools closing, workers protesting, and people using their last breaths to discuss the vaccine—either wishing they had gotten it or still uttering anti-vaccine propaganda—that the instances begin to blur together. Disturbingly, that can sometimes happen when it comes to stories on gun reform, and the absolute barrage of gun violence in this nation, whether connected to police brutality or mass shootings.
For example, the name Aidan Ingalls might not initially ring a bell, but it should. On Friday, Aug. 20, Ingalls, a 19-year-old, shot two people before shooting himself on the South Beach pier in South Haven, Michigan, as reported by the Associated Press. Of the two people Ingalls shot, a husband and wife, the husband died as a result of his injuries and the wife remains in critical condition. Ingalls died from the self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. The other reason Ingalls’ name may be familiar, however, is he was the same young person who once plotted a school shooting at Paw Paw High School in Paw Paw, Michigan, back in 2018.
When he was 15, Ingalls’ grandfather realized the teenager had sawed off two shotguns and taken them from his home. The grandfather notified Ingalls’ mother, Karissa Ingalls, who located the firearms. She took her son into the sheriff’s department. Police learned Ingalls had listed more than 25 people, including his peers at school and staff members, on what prosecutors described as a hit list, as well as explosives, guns, and ammunition in his backpack. A therapist reportedly evaluated Ingalls after he was arrested, and later testified that Ingalls lived with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. During hearings, Ingalls’ attorney Keeley Blanchard said her client had been bullied by students at school, including sharing a photo of Ingalls in his underwear on social media and calling him names.
The prosecution moved to prosecute him as an adult, but the judge denied that, and he was ultimately charged as a juvenile. Ingalls faced 10 charges, including felony weapons and explosives. If he had been tried and sentenced as an adult, he may have faced up to 28 years in prison.
Back in June, Ingalls was released from supervision at the age of 19. Within weeks, he committed what appears to be the random shooting, according to South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson, as reported by local outlet WWMT.
The shooting occurred just after 2 PM on Friday afternoon. Videos and photos show hundreds of people, including families and children, trying to hide after hearing the gunshots.
“We just tried to get all the kids on the beach to their cars and make sure their parents were attached to their kids,” an unnamed witness told local outlet WSBT. “It was just a very frantic scene.”
Police believe Ingalls acted alone and did not know the victims. Police also said they found a 9mm handgun, a pellet gun, and a dozen spent shell casings on his person. Names of victims have not been released. It’s unclear where Ingalls got the weapons he was found with.
You can watch a statement from Van Buren County Prosecuting Attorney Susan Zuiderveen below, in which she shares some details about Ingalls’ background and history, and ultimately says she wishes he had been tried as an adult.
All stories about gun violence are terribly sad, and ones like this can feel especially so, as the nation often feels uniquely ill-equipped to offer real support, change, and safety. We need stricter gun control. We need a justice system centered around real rehabilitation, not punishment. We need accessible mental health resources and support. We need to be able to walk into a Walmart, go to a beach, or sit in a movie theater without being gunned down.
We need some major, structural changes—and when it comes to gun control and safety, we need Republicans to stop standing in the way.
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