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Two Minnesota news stories have involved shootings in small towns in the past week. Some residents seem shocked that such things could happen in their small town. The law enforcement personnel are shocked but not surprised.

In Lake City a police officer was shot in the head after being called for a domestic disturbance. The officer is in critical condition with a bullet in his brain. In Grand Marais a County Attorney and a witness were shot. The attorney is in fair condition and the witness is in good condition.

Grand Marais is a town of 1300 people on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It has outfitters and businesses that support wilderness adventures and a thriving arts community. Lake City is on the Mississippi River in south eastern Minnesota and has 5300 people. Lake City is where water skiing was invented. Both are located in beautiful settings and have kind of a Norman Rockwell charm about them.

In Lake City the shooter apparently killed himself. “The man accused of critically wounding a Lake City police officer, resulting in a dramatic daylong lockdown Monday, was a despondent Iraq war veteran who was being discharged from the Wisconsin National Guard.” He was being discharged for failing to report for duty. His uncle said he had left a strange kind of “good bye” message on Facebook.

The shooter in Grand Marais had just been convicted of sexual assault. This shooter’s girlfriend said he had told her he was “planning something.”

I don’t think the police can keep us safe from everything nor do I think that quaint small towns are immune from violence. I do believe that every one of us needs to be more alert to the signals that troubled people are sending out.

The Lake City Mayor Jerry Dunbar says he’s proud of his community:

Everybody turn on their porch light for the next three days and leave it on. It’s a light of hope. It’s something that [Arizona] Congresswoman [Gabrielle] Giffords, they did in her tragedy she had. She was a survivor and Officer Schneider will be a survivor, too, but he needs our support.”

I have been puzzling over these two incidents a lot. I have been wondering what the progressive response is.

My porch light is on. Any other ideas?

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