Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Murder of Josh Sweitzer

Josh SweitzerBefore yesterday morning I’d never even heard of Josh Sweitzer. But 24 hours after stepping over puddles of his blood, I’m still trying to figure out why he had to die. It happened less than a mile from El Ocho itself; a burly young man working the counter of his uncle’s convenience store. When a group of rowdy young men crowded the tiny store, he insisted they step outside, with only two at a time remaining inside to buy their items. That obviously didn’t sit well with the young men, for minutes later one of them came back to the store, waited until Josh was alone behind the counter, then stepped inside and executed the 21 year old with a bullet to the brain. Family members say Josh Sweitzer didn’t stop breathing until hours later, but as his blood spread across the floor of the Lucky Mart convenience store, his dreams of becoming a cop - along with every other aspiration the young college graduate ever had - ceased to be...

I, of course, was blissfully unaware of the murder - until I walked into work yesterday morning and found two homicide detectives sitting at my desk. I didn’t know who they were, but their shoulder holsters and sour expressions told me I wouldn’t be turning a story on leftover Halloween candy after all. Instead, I’d spend the day retracing the steps of a most inexplicable act. It started with surveillance photos. The two detectives had them on a disk and together with reporter Caron Myers, were eager to see them disseminated. Still not sure what the suspects were wanted for, I digitized several ATM photos of a young man chuckling as he swiped a stolen bank card. Only after that did Caron interview the cops, and that’s when I learned about the neighborhood slaying that would consume the rest of my day. But even then it didn’t hit home. I’ve covered more murders than I can possibly remember. Rarely do they register as anything but more senseless fodder for the machine. This one, however, did.

Perhaps that’s because I used to frequent the store Josh died in. Or maybe it was because I had the misfortune of stepping inside that very establishment before the crime scene cleaners had arrived. Most probably, my emotional connection was formed when Josh’s uncle stepped before the cameras and told of his young nephew’s thwarted dreams. A big burly guy himself, the uncle’s voiced hitched as tears streamed down his face. A few minutes into the interview, I was breathing heavy myself - even as I reached up to zoom in closer. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t shake the scenario from my mind. Josh’s killers didn’t take anything; they just stepped inside the store and assassinated a young man who was scheduled to meet with an Air Force recruiter a few hours later. If you think it makes no sense on the evening news - ya oughta check it out in 3-D sometime. The only solace is in those surveillance photos. Spreading those across the land won't raise the dead, but hopefully they’ll assist whoever his killers are on their way to the lethal injection lab. I’d kinda like to be there, too.

11 comments:

sean coon said...

man...

turdpolisher said...

damn...

Joel said...

Thanks for sharing-- been on the road and just now learned of this.

Billy The Blogging Poet said...

Typical gang MO. You can expect to cover a lot more of this as local leaders continue to fiddle while Rome burns.

These gangs see any demand for moral or socialized behavior on their part as a form of disrespect and will gun down anyone who demands they treat the rest of us with respect.

They murdered that young man simply because he demanded their respect.

This my friends, is what my neighbors and I are forced to live with every minute of our lives and the primary reason I'm running for Mayor of Greensboro.

joey said...

i was the first camera on the scene, and so far into my gig slinging the hash of crime it was the toughest killing to deal with. just crazy. i pass that place every day on the way to work...

Amy Dominello said...

I was out there early the morning after for the N&R. Although they all tend to weigh on your mind a bit, this one stuck with me too.

It struck me as similar to the murder of the owner of Mr. Music & More in GSO this summer. Both were apparently good guys with futures ahead of them.

Although they've made arrests in the Music & More case, both were random, senseless acts in locations that I wouldn't think twice about going in to.

Terrible things to have to cover and think about ...

The CA said...

I think there will be an arrest very soon in this case based on some events that transpired today.

phoebe (sweitzer) shepherd said...

I am Joshua's mother and I would like to thank each of you for commenting on Joshua's death. I cannot even begin to describe the pain and agony I am experiencing. I do not wish this pain on my worst enemy. I welcome the opportunity to speak with any of you that were at the scene or that know anything regarding the case. The police are telling me nothing so I feel completely helpless. The two young men in the ATM videos are not suspects in Joshua's murder according to what I have been told by the police. (I have been bugging them about these suspects because of the rumors that they did it.) I now spend my days longing to have one more in-depth conversation with my child and praying that another family does not get the phone call that we did. This would have never happened if other parents had taken their parenting role more seriously and taught their children that life is fragile, precious and a gift from God.

Phoebe (Sweitzer) Shepherd
336-869-1006 home and work

Dave said...

A friend of mine was murdered four years ago. I found out about it on our newscast.

As I joined family and friends weeping in his parents' house, I explained to them that the news people would probably come knocking the next day.
I told them, in plain anglo-saxon prose, that if they wanted us (the station) to leave them alone, I would pass the message along.

They said, if I was the interviewer, they would have no problem. We shot the piece the next day. I don't know that I could ever do that interview again.

That whole time follows me every time I approach a family about a tragic loss like this.

Lenslinger said...

An Arrest?!?

http://www.myfoxwghp.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=5407826&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1

Anonymous said...

josh will never be forgotn he was sweet as they come im glad they were caugt but they still will never feel the pain we have to have.