Does it really matter?
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, an unidentified man was shot and killed in Long Beach around 7:30 Saturday night; or rather, the authorities have not publicly released the victim’s ID yet.
Police found the victim on the 1300 block of Atlantic Avenue after responding to reports of shots fired; he was taken to a nearby hospital where he died of his wounds. Witnesses report he’d been riding his bike when he was shot, though police could not confirm that. However, a bike is clearly visible lying in the street in the news photos.
No description was available for the suspect(s), who remain at large. Police do not yet know if the shooting was gang related.
Chances are, though, it was.
Not because of any stereotypes about the location, though Long Beach has long had a gang problem, just like many or most cities in Southern California. But because most street shootings involve gang ties in some way.
Of the six — now seven — fatal shootings of cyclists in SoCal this year, at least four were suspected of being gang-related. One in Silver Lake last April involved an alleged gang member as the shooter, though the victim — and the reason for the shooting — had nothing to do with gangs. And last I heard, another April shooting, this time in San Diego, did not appear to be gang-related.
So what do these deaths have to do with the greater cycling community?
In most, if not all of these cases, the victims were not targeted because they were on a bike; the bike was merely the form of transportation they were using at the time.
That’s the argument several people have used in encouraging me not to give the same coverage to cases like this that I do to other cycling deaths. And why I no longer include shootings in my stats on cycling fatalities, instead separating them into their own category apart from traffic-related deaths.
Still others have questioned whether shooting victims should be honored with a ghost bike. Or if they should be, if not ignored by cyclists, at least not afforded the same concern and respect we show other fallen riders.
And should his death matter any less to us if it does turn out to be gang-related than if he was the victim of a road rage attack, killed precisely because he was on a bike and in the way?
My personal opinion is that all deaths matter, and that as cyclists, we should all be concerned when any one of us falls, for whatever reason.
For at least a moment, at the time of his death, this man was riding a bike. He was, however briefly or for whatever reason, one of us.
And he is now dead, like too many others. Whether they were victims of guns, or cars. Or their own riding errors.
He was one of us, and now he is gone.
So what do you think?
Should we care?
Or simply turn our heads and look the other way?
Update: the victim of the shooting has been identified as 29-year old Reynard Lionell Fulton of Palmdale.