ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

8-11 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

On August 11, 1976 from the rooftop of what was once a Holiday Inn, a sniper armed with two rifles, a lunch box filled with ammunition and evil intent in his heart to kill because he was distressed over a broken romance, opened fire on innocent citizens – strangers – in Wichita, Kansas.

He killed three people and injured seven.

At that time, the Holiday Inn was the tallest building in Wichita and in the state of Kansas.  It is now the second tallest since we now have the Epic Center.

The Holiday Inn was built in 1964-67.  I remember the excitement in Wichita back then.   It was wonderful that Wichita was finally going to get a big name hotel.  Our city was really going to grow because we had this nice place for visitors to stay.

We don’t have a crystal ball, do we?  We had no way of knowing that nine years after the Holiday Inn opened its doors, Michael Soles would change so many lives in just eleven minutes!

Wichita has had its share of crime, but there was something about this one that made all of us more frightened.  We all felt so safe in Wichita for the most part.  There are higher crime areas in America to be sure.  But the idea of shooting people you don’t even know to take out frustrations about your own love life?  Seriously?

I’ve followed his case and his parole hearings.  In 2007 once again the victims and families of victims made a plea to keep Soles behind bars for the rest of his life.  It absolutely blows my mind that he will be eligible for parole in July 2017!  That is next year!!!  I hope and pray the victims and families of victims will once again show up to keep him from leaving prison!

Here’s my question.  I want to know if he got some psychological treatment, because if he is released next year, what’s to say he won’t do it again?  He killed people – on purpose!  Why is his evil butt not in jail with no possibility of parole???  Is that not premeditated murder???  I know they don’t like to use the “S” word anymore, but that is exactly what he was…  a SNIPER!

The Epic Center is now the tallest building in Wichita.  I love the design because the roof is at an angle – nobody can stand on top of that building with a loaded gun!  The windows at the top of the building do not open – another plus in my book!

The people of my generation think of one event when we see the Epic Center, and we thank God that the city was wise enough to utilize this design.  It doesn’t make what happened in 1976 right.  Of course I am aware that God is in control of this situation.  I’m also aware that God gave every one of us a brain and made it possible for us to form a sense of right and wrong – and the ability to forge change when we see something that is wrong.

Law enforcement officials made it clear in the testimony at his 2007 parole hearing that Michael Soles spoke of the murders as though he was telling a story about someone else.  He has not taken responsibility and seems to not feel a bit of remorse about what he did.  He is obviously detached from the event and feels nothing.

Time doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change what happened.  Time has a tendency to make people forget how horrendous this crime was.  – Carl Hensley, son of murder victim

To let him out next year would be the biggest mistake – especially if he has not had any psychological treatment.  He’s clearly unstable and does not deal with strife in a constructive manner.

Michael Soles is evil.  He was evil then, he is evil now.  – Kevin O’Connor, Sedgwick County deputy district attorney

I’m not an attorney (but I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery on television).  There are cases where people kill one person and never get out of prison.  Soles killed THREE people and will be eligible for parole next year!  That just doesn’t pass the smell test for me – sorry! 

As a Christian I believe in forgiveness because of how much I’ve been forgiven for.  My problem in this case is that Soles has not received any psychological help (in my research I saw no evidence of it) and will undoubtedly be a repeat offender because he’s not taking responsibility.  He’s not OWNING what he did!

I sure don’t want to be walking around the downtown area when he decides to go up on a rooftop and start shooting again.  Yes I know that security is better than it was in 1976…  Well, maybe it is – but what if it isn’t? 

And those apartments in the old Holiday Inn…  are they renting out that penthouse level now – and how secure is that?  I’m not the first to ask that question, by the way.  Why don’t Wichitans deserve to be kept in the loop about things like that?  Time is a wonderful healer, but sometimes it’s just time that has passed.  Change happens in the heart – and Soles doesn’t even acknowledge he did anything wrong.

Part of me thinks, “What are the chances that he would go to the same building and walk up to somebody’s penthouse apartment and walk out on the balcony and open fire?”  How unlikely is that?  Well, I don’t know – but I think it’s just the thought that he would have the freedom to do that – I’m sure that is what has me so angry and so paralyzed.  I was a kid – I was only fifteen in 1976.  I can tell you though that it was the beginning of the end of commerce in our downtown area.  Nobody felt safe to shop there anymore and the folks who worked downtown didn’t leave their office buildings to go out to lunch for a long time.

Wichita has not been the same since 8:46 pm on August 11, 1976.  The Garvey Center used to be a symbol of progress and hope.  Now that building is a bunch of apartments, but every time I look at it, my mind goes back to that day in 1976.

One more thought before I get off my soapbox.  To the city officials of Wichita: they implode buildings every day for all sorts of reasons.  Why in the world did we keep that building after the Wichita massacre?  I hate it – I still hate seeing it – I think it’s a stain that should have been imploded a LONG time ago.  It’s my blog – and that’s my opinion.  Take it or leave it.  That HOLIDAY INN building with it’s uniquely shaped architecture and bright white color – it makes me cry to this day.  We continue to build all kinds of new buildings – heck, we’ve built three ARENAS – and closed one and the other one is in critical condition.  We could have taken the opportunity to rid ourselves of a very painful eyesore, but did we?  NOOOOOOOOOO!  We didn’t.  It’s still there – like the haunted house in the small town that nobody wants to get close to.  What a sad, sad reminder of the worst day in Wichita’s history!  What are we thinking – and is it too late to re-think it?  Am I overthinking it and just need to get over it?  I dunno – maybe.

Maybe it’s still there because it’s part of the Garvey Center.  I don’t know how much other than the hotel is there – maybe that’s why it still stands.  I’m sure somebody is making mega bucks renting out apartments.  I’m not against making money or renting out apartments, but seriously – I’m tired of the LANDMARK being there.  I mean – I dunno – repaint it or make some changes to it so it stops looking like an old Holiday Inn.  Even Holiday Inn hotels have changed their architecture – quite a bit.  I’m just tired of associating that building with this event.  Is anyone else in Wichita feelin’ it or is it just me?

In July, 1976 we were celebrating America’s Bicentennial and there seemed to be so much excitement and promise.  What a difference a month made.  😦

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

When Jesus walked this earth in human form, what was the last act of good will and fellowship?  It was THE LAST SUPPER.  Jesus ate with His disciples and attempted to explain the drama to follow, though they understandably did not comprehend what they were hearing.  I’m not quick to judge them – I’m not sure I’d “get it” either.

What have Christian churches considered tradition since the beginning of Christianity?  It’s a POT-LUCK DINNER.  Everybody brings a covered dish (preferably with food inside).  We stand in line after the church service, tummies growling and eyes enlarged as we carefully examine the good stuff we have to choose from.  We communicate and laugh and if somebody says they forgot or they think they should not stay – we talk ’em into stayin’ anyhow, right?  We tell them there’s plenty of food.

Nobody knows how to make good relationships into better relationships like the followers of Christ.  I believe that most people here in Wichita still believe that America is a Christian nation, founded on the values and principles of Christianity.  We love, we mentor, we pray for everybody (except maybe ourselves) and yep – we EAT TOGETHER.  We break bread and with true concern for our fellow person – we communicate and laugh and with a sincere heart, we try to listen to the views of everyone and come up with solutions when there is any conflict.  THAT is what we do.

I could not be any more proud of Wichita right now.  While race relations are escalating across the country, in Wichita, our officers are taking a cue from the Christian community around them.  They are meeting with the group Black Lives Matter at a cookout.  Food – the breaking of bread (and hopefully some hamburgers inside – and hot dogs) along with meaningful dialogue, communication on both sides which includes some listening – real listening, and I hope and pray some moments of levity – laugher perhaps.  We need to initiate some conversation that leads to some answers – not for one side or the other – but answers we can all LIVE with.

We all need to LIVE to our greatest potential – because LIFE is a precious gift and not to be carelessly taken by anyone.

Let’s all have conversations at a cookout.  Christ knew how to talk with His crew about serious stuff.  Christians know all about making good fellowship into great fellowship.  Please America…  stop the violence.  Instead, let’s have a real conversation at a cookout.  Talking, listening – and FOOD.  🙂