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Thu Feb 15, 2018, 08:14 PM

Having taken in a homeless teen myself, I strongly disagree with those who are blaming the couple [View all]

Last edited Thu Feb 15, 2018, 11:25 PM - Edit history (2)

who tried to help him.

He asked his friend if he could stay at his house, and the friends' parents agreed. They knew the kid's only surviving parent, his mother, had just died of pneumonia, and he had no one.

So they took a leap of faith and said yes. Yes to the disruption of their lives and to sharing what they had. When they found he had a gun that his mother had let him have, they made him lock it up. But, otherwise, they tried to treat him as the adult he legally was, while giving him assistance in working for a GED and getting a job. (What would have happened if they made him get rid of the gun? He could simply have gotten another one. Short of having regular room inspections, they never would have known. He was only with them for a few months.)

When our homeless teen came to live with us, all I knew was that she had abusive parents -- and that my own teen wanted to rescue her. She came here quiet and broken -- and wanting to share very little about her circumstances. We had to trust the judgment of our child and take a chance on her. It didn't feel right to invade her privacy, to take away all that remained of her dignity, by trying to satisfy our curiosity. I would never have gone into her room, for example, and searched her things. Or contacted her school to try to get information from them. Or done any of the other things the Cruz friend's family would have to have done in order to know what a danger he posed.

Our story is the flip side of what happened to Cruz's friend's parents. It's been almost 6 years now, and our teen got her GED, and then a community college degree, and then a UW degree. (Fortunately, our state has programs to pay tuition for students like her.) She got a part time job within a few weeks of arriving at our house, and stayed working the whole time she was in school. Now she's still working and living in an apartment nearby. She is safe, and loved.

But when we took her in, all this was in the future. She has been nothing but a blessing in our lives, but it wasn't because we were smart or did everything right. We just crossed our fingers and hoped -- like the Cruz family friends probably did.

If what happened in this case causes more people to think twice about taking in homeless young people, that will just add to the tragedy. That family was just trying to do the right thing. The natural instinct is to look for scapegoats, but we shouldn't be blaming that family. Not the family who listened to their son and gave a home to a parentless teenager.

ON UPDATE: What if the family had kicked him and his gun out? Or insisted he give up his gun, and the boy decided just to leave? He could have turned up at school with his weapon the next day. WE DON'T KNOW that anything this family did could have stopped him.

It's the laws that need to be changed.


http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/florida-school-shooting/fl-florida-school-shooting-main-20180215-story.html

-- Suspected murder weapon legally purchased in Broward County: Cruz bought the AR-15 rifle allegedly used in in the shootings at Sunrise Tactical Supply, in a strip mall in Coral Springs. At the store Thursday afternoon, a “closed” sign was on the door and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were inside.

Peter Forcelli, the special agent in charge of the ATF in South Florida, said Cruz had purchased the gun legally. “Because he’s over the age of 18, he can legally purchase an AR-15.” The arrest report said Cruz bought it last year. “Once you hit your 18th birthday, you can legally buy a rifle, if you pass the background check,” Forcelli said. “Once you hit your 21st birthday, you can buy a handgun.”

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