This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in February 2014:

I live less than three miles up the Durham Freeway from where police say a man accidentally shot a baby with a gun stashed in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt on Wednesday morning.

The only thing that’s liable to go off in one of my pockets is my phone, pinging as yet another Words with Friends challenge arrives.

That usually doesn’t hurt anything but my ego.

So why in the world would Arin Tavon Futrell pack a gun in his pocket while standing on the porch of his girlfriend’s house on Macon Street?

What was he thinking?

Lately, it feels like even though I don’t live far from where bad things are happening, I might as well live on another planet.

Wednesday night saw more mayhem around Northeast Durham and N.C. Central University, with three men shot in the leg inside of an hour. Plus the robberies Wednesday night and early Thursday.

On Feb. 1, Alfredo D. Jobel, 28, was gunned down on Liberty Street.

In another incident in February, three men broke into a business near Northgate Mall – even closer to home – and shot the owner, wounding him.

Last month, a man fired his gun into an SUV carrying little Jaeden Sharpe and his mother. Jaeden, just 9 years old, died in the attack.

In December, teen brothers who should’ve been in school were shot and badly wounded in a house on Grace Lane.

Meanwhile, in my native Florida, jurors apparently are convicting people for the black victims they fail to kill in the name of “standing their ground,” but acquitting them if their targets die.

I’ve never lived in a neighborhood where I felt like I might be a target for violence. In fact, it wasn’t until I bought a house in a middle-class suburb outside Tampa that someone stole my car and later abandoned it with their death-metal band cassette still stuck in the stereo.

So, it’s safe to say I can’t really ever know for sure what Futrell might have been thinking that morning. But what so many of us see in headlines, with the advantage of secure objectivity, people like him see at ground level, day after day.

Luckily, the 5-month-old girl’s injuries weren’t life threatening.

But I wish he didn’t live in a world where he felt it was necessary to own a gun, let alone keep it in his pocket the way someone like me instinctively totes around a smartphone.

I wish the most everyone else had to worry about was an opponent landing a Z on a triple-letter tile combined with a triple-word tile.

Wes Platt can be reached at or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at

By Brody

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