It was a tough day for some people in the Tuskegee area this past Sunday.

A 20-year Tuskegee man, Evan Mikale Wilson, was shot in killed on West Magnolia Avenue in Auburn about a block from the famed Toomer’s Corner.

That took place about 2:24 a.m., according to Auburn Police Department reports. In addition to the death of Wilson, a 17-year-old male, a 19-year-old female and a 16-year-old male, all of Opelika, and a 21-year-old male from Hilton Head, S.C. were injured in the shooting.

A 17-year-old juvenile, Jarvis Nichols of the Opelika area, was taken into custody Sunday night at a residence in Auburn. Making the arrest were Auburn police with assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Fugitive Task Force.

Around noon on Sunday, a 21-year-old man from Auburn died at Moton Field while skydiving. According to Tuskegee Police Chief Marquez James, Stephen Campbell was killed when he had complications opening his parachute after completing a successful jump earlier in the day.

Campbell was jumping from 10,000 feet, Chief James said. A junior at Auburn University from Huntsville, Campbell was an avid scuba diver and skydiver, according to family members.

Campbell’s death brought back memories of a similar incident about 15 years ago at Moton Field. That time a veteran skydiver, who was also a skydiving instructor, fell to his death when his parachute malfunctioned.

Considering the number of those skydiving, there are very few deaths from the experience. As it is with events involving vital equipment — such as scuba diving and skydiving — there is always a danger.

My father was an officer in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II and made several jumps during the war, as well as many while training before leaving for overseas. They always had a back-up chute in case the main parachute didn’t open. Having a back-up saved many lives.

As for the shooting in Auburn, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes had a strong message for those involved in the shootings such as this one and for parents.

“The fact that we had armed teenagers running the streets at 2:30 in the morning who clearly had no compunction whatsoever about pulling a gun, pointing a gun, and firing a gun is unacceptable,” Hughes stated. “This reckless behavior put countless innocent citizens at risk who were simply enjoying an Auburn football game and the great things that accompany that experience.

“If you are a parent of a teenager, please use this as a teaching moment for why they do not need to be out running the streets at that time of the morning. If the parents won’t handle it on the front end, the police, the District Attorney’s Office, and the justice system stand ready to handle it on the back end,” Hughes’ statement continued. ​

Unfortunately, too often law enforcement and the justice system have to step in because situations are not being handled before they get out hand.

Also too often, innocent people and families are terribly impacted by poor decisions from those who place little or no value over someone else’s life.

That’s a sad commentary about lack of responsibility and accountability in much of our society.

Guy Rhodes is editor and publisher of The Tuskegee News. He is a former recipient of the Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist Award and multi-time winner in the Alabama Press Association contest for Best Editorial Column or Commentary. He can be reached by email at guynrhodes@bellsouth.net

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