A Tragedy on All Fronts: Following Shooting We Must Ask: Was There a Way to Avoid This?

The tragic death last week of an Iraq war veteran, during what began as a routine police call for a disturbance of the peace should first and foremost be looked at as the tragedy that it is.

Denis Reynoso, according to reports from his neighbors, was a war hero and a “good guy”. A quiet neighbor who enjoyed playing with his children.

It is impossible for anyone who was not there, to know or fully understand what happened at 11:10 a.m. on Thursday, September 5, 2013 on Newcastle Street. At this point, we only know how things ended.

The Essex County District Attorney is investigating the shooting, as they would any police involved shooting that occurs and this is not to suggest that anything illegal or improper occurred on the part of the police officers who were responding.

The DA’s investigation will ultimately record the testimony of the officers who were there. Ballistics and fingerprint evidence will answer questions about who was holding the weapon that discharged and ultimately killed Reynoso. Finally, the investigators will have to take that evidence and testimony and determine if there is someone to blame and if so, what kind of punishment should they face.

If the investigation ultimately leads to a suspicion that someone acted improperly, it is possible that charges may even be filed.

However, this is all conjecture at this point.

The questions we should be asking now are about Reynoso and what may have led to the incident that resulted in his death.

Lynn Veterans Director Michael Sweeney said on Friday that he is bound by confidentiality laws and cannot confirm or deny that Reynoso was involved with Veterans services. However, given the recent focus on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and combat related illness, it is only natural to wonder or ask if Reynoso was suffering from some kind of stress-related issue at the time of the incident.

If he was, that does not make him any more or less culpable in the events that preceded his death. But, if he was, we should be able to learn from this incident and find ways to protect both our public safety professionals and our war heroes from a repeat of the events that transpired last week.

If this tragedy is related to our country’s recent wars overseas, is there anything we can learn from this incident so that we can be sure that this type of tragedy does not occur again?

Sweeney noted during our discussion last week that he has only ever had positive experiences in dealing with the Lynn Police Department and their response to assisting veterans in the community.

“They’ve always been very professional in dealing with veterans and the public in general,” said Sweeney. “I’ve not know them to be anything but professional and compassionate.”

For more than a decade now, U.S. soldiers have been fighting two wars in countries far, far away from here. As we wind down the last of our involvement in Afghanistan later this year, we will be bringing home more combat veterans to the United States than we have since the end of the Vietnam conflict.

As a nation and as a community, we must ask these questions, so that we can prepare ourselves to protect and aid our nation’s war heroes.

This is not a time to be pointing fingers.

It is a time to ask questions, make assessments and then find ways to address any concerns that arise from those assessments.

Perhaps, that would be the best way to honor the memory of Denis Reynoso – by ensuring that this type of incident does not occur again.

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