the case for better gun control and better mental illness treatment hits too close to home

shooter

Actual text message I received from a friend who lives in one of the neighborhoods across Boot  Road in West Chester and the retirement communities and Giant 

The text message you don’t EVER wish to receive.  Active shooter.

As in person with gun or guns.

Near where several of my friends lived….in multiple municipalities.

Yet that is what a lot of us lived for a few hours in Chester County last night. I had several friends, good friends on lock-down or shelter in place in East Goshen, West Goshen, and Willistown. Kind of surreal. Like watching a live episode of Law & Order unfold in neighboring municipalities.

Shooters shooting up schools and every place else is NOT what you think of living around here…until last night when shooting up nursing homes became a thing.

As NBC10 Philadelphia and others like Daily Local reported (video and article HERE) this guy, this unbalanced man named Bruce Rogal must have snapped and first went after his ex-wife in West Bradford and shot AT her six times (he missed thank God), drove to Bellingham, one of the retirement communities in East Goshen near the Giant on Boot Road and then proceeded to shoot and murder his elderly parents, William and Nancy Rogal. Nancy Rogal was an artist. She was as per the Inquirer featured in a 2008 show at the Chester County Art Association.

Those poor people were in their 80s. May God have mercy upon their souls.

I guess retirement communities and nursing homes are going to have to consider getting metal detectors like a lot of schools now?

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan  released the following statement:

PRESS RELEASE

Investigation Into Retirement Community Murders Is Ongoing

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced that the investigation into the deadly shootings at the Bellingham retirement community and the death of the suspect is ongoing. The suspect, Bruce Rogal, age 59, killed his parents in the Bellingham retirement community in East Goshen Township on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, at approximately 6:15 p.m. The suspect attempted to kill his wife in West Bradford Township earlier in the evening at approximately 5:30 p.m. This activity appears to have been triggered by a divorce decree received by Rogal that day.

The murders and attempted murder set off an intensive manhunt for Rogal. The media put out warnings, identifying information, and photographs of Rogal to the public. The Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team responded to Rogal’s home to search for him. Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) Troopers eventually observed the suspect driving his 2002 Honda Odyssey on Strasburg Road. Rogal led the police on a high speed chase back to his wife’s home, where he had shot at his wife earlier in the evening. Shots were exchanged during the pursuit.

Rogal’s vehicle eventually crashed into his wife’s residence. PSP, the Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team (“CCRERT”), and municipal police departments all were at the scene. CCRERT members approached the vehicle and discovered that Rogal was already deceased in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, with other firearms still in the vehicle.

The investigation into Rogal is ongoing pending review of multiple crime scenes, autopsies, interviews with the involved Troopers who discharged their weapons, and additional investigative tasks. There is also an ongoing investigation with family members into the circumstances leading to Rogal’s attempted murder of his wife and the murder of his parents.

District Attorney Hogan stated, “Chester County law enforcement worked cooperatively and swiftly to bring this situation to a close. Virtually every law enforcement agency and other first responders in the county and region either assisted or volunteered their assistance during the tense hours of this manhunt for a killer. The citizens of Chester County can take comfort in knowing that when dangerous situations like this take place, their police and first responders are prepared. We will continue to investigate this matter and provide additional information when the investigation is complete.”

This case was investigated by the Chester County Detectives, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Westtown/East Goshen Regional Police Department, Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team, and multiple assisting agencies. The Chester County Department of Emergency Services, the Coroner’s Office, and numerous fire companies and EMT services played critical roles in securing the scenes and assisting law enforcement. Anyone with further information should contact Chester County Detective John O’Donnell at 610-344-6866.

* * * * * * *

Approved for release:

Thomas P. Hogan

You will note, I am not posting a photo of the shooter. I just. CAN’T.  I keep thinking of the terror his ex-wife must have felt, and the final moments of an older couple living in a retirement home. His parents. Family shattered in an instant.

The police, state troopers, and all first responders did a magnificent job last night.  This was a welcome to crazy town situation to be sure.

I do not know what is known about this man Bruce Rogal.  I have seen chatter back and forth on Facebook especially that say he was a local guy, went to Henderson High School, got married, got divorced…don’t know if he has children, don’t know why he delaminated but as uncaring as it might sound, as a woman I am glad he is no longer among the living because now at least his poor ex-wife won’t have to look over her shoulder for the rest of her life.

But I think this begs the question of when we are all going to lay down our politics and self-righteousness and have a real conversation about better mental health resources and sensible gun control in this country?

I am not saying that so I can start getting hate comments, but we as reasonable human beings have to ask how a man with issues like that GOT A GUN??? I know the arguments on both sides of the gun control debate in this country but I have to ask, while everyone and politicians are hashing this out, why aren’t there at least mental fitness exams for those who wish to possess firearms?

Forbes in February, 2018 published a very interesting op-ed by Chris Ladd called One Simple Step Toward Sane Gun Laws.  You can click on the hyperlink to read.  I will note his bio:

For almost thirty years I was active in Republican politics. Most recently I spent ten years as a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago. I am a Texan in exile. While a college intern at the Texas Legislature I met a young Rick Perry, fresh off his switch from the Democratic Party. As a donor and volunteer for a Republican PAC in Houston I volunteered for Republican state and local campaigns. From 2009-2016 I wrote the GOPLifer blog. My book, The Politics of Crazy, is a distillation of ideas from the blog. After the 2016 Republican National Convention, I resigned my position as a precinct committeeman and left the Republican Party. I now maintain a new blog, PoliticalOrphans.com.

We deserve peace where we live. People should not be able to just go shoot up people anywhere. But until we convince our elected officials on a national stage to stop pontificating and start governing responsibly in a bi-partisan manner, it won’t happen.

Our mental health resources aren’t where they should be either thanks to the continuing crisis of healthcare, politicians (whose benefits we as taxpayers fund but I digress), and big pharma who think pills fix everything.  Pills do not fix everything and there needs to be more comprehensive care resources available to people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic levels.

And domestic violence? Does this play a part here as well? I have to wonder because some of the media outlets have posted this at the end of their coverage like NBC10 Philadelphia did:

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY) provides people in distress, or those around them, with 24-hour support.

Today, anyone related to this Bruce Rogal either by family or other kinds of relationships will have to start to pick up the pieces and move on. And mourn their dead.  No family should be torn apart by this.

Here is some of the coverage on this hideous event:

Man allegedly killed his parents and shot at ex-wife after getting divorce papers

By Faith Karimi, CNN Updated 6:58 AM ET, Thu September 20, 2018

Delaware Online: Suspect found dead after officials say he killed parents in retirement home Associated Press

 Daily Local DA: Suspect in double-shooting at senior living facility found dead
Fran Maye, Pete Bannan, Bill Rettew  

Philly.com CRIME & JUSTICE
D.A.: Shooter dead after killing his parents at Chester County retirement community
by Erin McCarthy, Vinny Vella and Robert Moran

 

3PM Updated details via Philly.com:

 

Updated details from the Inquirer — It is a LONG article, but here is an excerpt:
 

After a bitter, three-year divorce proceeding, Bruce Rogal’s marriage of 24 years ended Tuesday, with a formal ruling from a Chester County judge…He then drove 20 minutes away to the retirement community where his elderly parents lived and gunned them down, a violent outburst that betrayed the financial support they had provided for him for years….Rogal and his wife, identified in the paperwork as Catherine Christian, married in 1990. They have one son, Walter, now 27…..James Oley, who lives a few yards away, said Rogal’s minivan crashed into the front of the home. Then he heard the rapid fire hail of gunshots from police who had been tailing Rogal.

Rogal’s vehicle dented the front of his ex-wife’s home, he said. Afterward, Oley said he received a text advising people to stay inside, and soon another that declared the scene safe.

“Everyone is still in disbelief, just soaking it in,” Oley said. “But I think we all feel pretty fortunate nobody in our street was harmed, given those bullets were found from his weapon on both sides of the street and a couple houses were hit.”…Christian also was granted a protection from abuse order against Rogal around the same time the divorce was filed. It expired two years later, in June 2017, records show….The complaint filed in their divorce hints that an extramarital relationship led to their marriage’s dissolution. Rogal, 59, had started seeing another woman in 2011

tragedy

long roadToday’s post is perhaps in part a rambling stream of consciousness.  Truthfully, I am not sure where this post will go as I start to write. This post began writing itself in my head a few hours ago.

A tragedy in Wayne has made me think of someone I had not thought of in a few years.

What tragedy am I speaking of? The man in Wayne who shot his wife on Sunday afternoon with one of their children in the house.  Then the man took his own life.

Coward.

Main Line Media News: Update: Husband, wife identified in Wayne murder-suicide

Published: Monday, January 13, 2014

By Pete Bannan,
Pbannan@Mainlinemedianews.com

Radnor police are working with family members to help care for the children after an apparent murder suicide that took place on 300 block of South Wayne Avenue in Radnor shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.

Radnor police were called to the home for the report of shots fired. Two people, Tim Rooney, 49, and Linda Rooney, 48, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a pool house at the rear of the property, according to police.

“It appears to be a domestic situation,” said Radnor Police Supt. William Colarulo.

An 8-year-old was in the main house at the time of the shooting. The couple had two other children, a 15-year-old who is in a boarding school out of state and a 17-year-old daughter.

Their names were Tim and Linda Rooney.  I did not know them.  From what I am reading she was some kind of high level executive with a pharmaceutical company.  

Linda was also a mother of three children, two teenagers, and one child who is considerably younger.  Now these poor kids are orphans and tainted by a tragedy not of their making which is so unfair.

From what Radnor Patch was reporting, Linda Rooney may have not only feared her husband, but apparently the marriage may have been in trouble.

Wayne Murder Victim May Have Feared Husband, Police Say

Posted by   Sam Strike  (Editor) , January 13, 2014 at 06:51 PM

rooneyAs the Radnor Township community grapples with a shocking murder-suicide that took place in a Wayne home on Sunday, Radnor Patch has received comments ranging from concern for the victim’s children to the shock of knowing that a firearm was within blocks of their own children and many at Radnor Middle School.

While Radnor Police have not yet revealed a motive in the killing, they have said that they believe that Timothy Rooney, 49, shot to death his 48-year-old wife, Linda, in the pool house of their home and then shot himself….based on documents that police found it appears the marriage “was in trouble” and that Linda “may have been fearful” of her husband.

I noticed that some people were hard on Radnor Patch Editor Sam Strike for in essence, doing her job and reporting this.  This shows up in comments underneath the story when the news broke, but victims had not yet been identified. It is horrible news, but she did not sensationalize it. She stated what the Radnor Police had reported to the media in general. I know Sam, so this bothers me.  She is not deserving of being castigated for doing her job.  It was also all over the media like lightening.

Murder-Suicide in Pa. Suburbs

By  Wire Reports and  NBC10.com Staff                                  
|  Monday, Jan 13, 2014  |  Updated 3:42 PM EST

tragedyA man shot and killed his wife then shot himself Sunday afternoon, according to Radnor Police.

The incident happened in the guest house of a property at 319 S. Wayne Ave. in Wayne. The victims are identified as 49-year-old Timothy Rooney and his 48-year-old wife Linda Rooney. One of the couple’s three children, an 8-year-old boy, was in a bedroom of the main home.

Police say there were signs of struggle and that a note was left at the scene….The couple’s 17 year-old daughter came home to be with her younger brother. Another sibling is away at boarding school. Police are seeking to make contact with her.

The family, who is originally from Texas, moved to Radnor about a year ago, according to authorities.

This is all so senseless and tragic.  It will undoubtedly get weighed down by another debate on gun control.  I hope not.  It is a weighty issue, but three children just became orphans. And like many other weighty issues in this country it is polarized by politics back and forth on both sides of the issue.

What is rattling around in my brain is a similar crime the spring of 2000.  A woman I knew (and went to Shipley with) was shot by her ex-husband.  And then he turned the gun on himself.

His name was Mark Biddle.  Hers was Melinda Clothier Biddle.  She was a neighbor of mine.  I came home one day for lunch to find my neighborhood in lockdown, with police and media all over the place; helicopters swarming. The press had a field day because of the old Philadelphia names involved…likened it to High Society run amok.

A Violent End For Two With Notable Names Mark Hampton Biddle Fatally Shot His Ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, At Her Main Line Home. Then He Killed Himself.

By Patrick Kerkstra, Erin Carroll and Chani Katzen, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF

Posted: June 01, 2000

A divorced couple from the Main Line, members of two of the most prominent families in Philadelphia’s long history, died yesterday in an apparent murder-suicide at the woman’s home in Haverford.

Mark Hampton Biddle, 49, a lawyer whose ancestors include leading financiers and statesmen from the time of the American Revolution, shot his ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, shortly after 10:30 a.m. at their former family home in the 400 block of West Montgomery Avenue, police said. He then shot himself in the head.

Melinda Biddle, 41, a therapist, was a great-great-granddaughter of Isaac Clothier, one of the founders of Strawbridge & Clothier. The couple had three children.

The pair finalized their divorce in February, according to court records. Mark Biddle recently remarried and moved to St. Davids after selling a large property on Lancaster Avenue where he had lived for about a year.

Mark Biddle was an angry man that Melinda finally divorced.  And it took a long time for her to get to her divorce.  It was very difficult for her to do this. But before she died, she was finally happy. She was blooming. She loved her children, her garden, a career, her friends and neighbors. I remembered seeing her out with some of her female friends from the neighborhood and elsewhere and I was so happy to see how she how happy she was and excited about life again.

A Murder-suicide Leaves Family And Police At A Loss. Questions Abound In Shootings  

By Ralph Vigoda and Patrick Kerkstra, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Posted: June 04, 2000

As he did many mornings, Mark Hampton Biddle started Wednesday with a prayer for his new wife, Veruschka, in the bedroom of their Chester County home. The couple, married 31/2 months, then prayed together – another morning ritual – before getting themselves and the children ready for the day…..What Mark Biddle did less than two hours later, police say, was confront his ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, in the back of the Haverford house they had once shared. He shot her twice, then – seconds later – shot himself in the head, his body crumpling in the driveway.

And then, one Wednesday morning, Mark Biddle parked his car literally across the street from my then driveway and accessed his ex-wife’s home via the R-5 Septa train tracks. He used the train tracks as a path.  He shot his former wife and then himself.  That darn car sat there for days.  I remember I finally called his old law practice and begged them to get someone, anyone to remove that car from our neighborhood.

What is wrong with this country?  Clearly, Mark Biddle was never someone who should have had access to guns anymore than this Tim Rooney. Yet he did.

My one comment on this debate which wages over guns in our country is why there has to be more control over exactly who is allowed to literally bear arms.  No one wants to interfere with an American’s inalienable rights, but part of this process should be a clean bill of mental health. And that should be something that should be periodically revisited as long as an individual owns guns. People kill.  Guns can’t just do it on their own as inanimate objects.

So as I first heard the news reports of this tragedy in Wayne, I was instantly transported back 14 years to the sounds of helicopters swarming like we were on the set of M.A.S.H or something.  I remember the chaos well because this is where I lived, and Melinda was my neighbor.  I have not thought of her in a few years.  Until this happened in Wayne.

I can only imagine how everyone in Wayne feels, and these were people that everyone was undoubtedly just getting to know because the family had only moved into the area within the past couple of years.

Human beings can be so cruel to each other and crimes like this will always be selfish in my mind on the part of the perpetrator.  Ok, so it is human to be ungodly upset but to take another life? And then your own so you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions? And to leave the children you brought into this world orphaned? It’s hateful, wrong, tragic, and selfish.

I often think about Melinda’s kids and wonder where their lives have led them.  I remember her son in particular as a little boy with reddish hair at the bus stop.  Melinda’s kids were lucky because her parents were able to step in and take care of her children.  And they are amazing and lovely people.

I guess life’s big lesson here is once again we are reminded of how life can change in a blink of an eye. I wish for a day when senseless violence like this ebbs away from our existences.

Appreciate those who love you and hold you dear.  I know I do.