Friday--October 25, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 408
15 Minutes Of Terror/Fame
For Sniper-Rooting Truck Driver
...And An Equal Amount For Catholic Priest Who Rang Alert
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, October 25 -- Ron Lantz got what Andy Warhol termed his "fifteen
minutes of fame" yesterday, only they weren't the kind of minutes that
made him jump for joy. They were Terror-filled minutes, 900
seconds of sitting on a keg of dynamite, hoping it wouldn't explode.
Hero Ron Lantz
Lantz is a truck driver from Ludlow,
Kentucky. He's only five runs from retirement and has a lot to loose
if his life is at risk. But that didn't stop him from risking it
When he pulled his semi into a rest
stop on I-70 early Thursday morning, his headlights spotted a vehicle
similar to the one police were broadcasting on the news as containing
suspects in the recent sniper attacks that killed 10 and seriously
wounded another three.
To confirm his suspicions,
Lantz called a local radio station and reaffirmed the model, make and
license plates the media had been broadcasting. Then he
Authorities told him to box in
the car with his truck and wait for them. Lantz complied, and
enlisted another truck driver to assist him in surrounding the suspects'
He waited for 15 minutes, a
total of 900 seconds--each second stretching to its maximum as Lantz sat in
the truck's cab. At one point, CNN news reported, Lantz got
out of the cab to go to the restroom. When he noticed the
had two people in it, he quickly returned to the cab where he said
he "felt safer."
After the authorities arrived,
they spent 90 minutes surrounding the vehicle, preparing for a battle
with the suspects, known to be stone-cold killers.
Fortunately, the occupants, John Allen Muhammad, 42, and his "step-son,"
17-year-old John Lee Malvo, were asleep in the vehicle.
They were arrested. The sniper rifle used in the killings was found
in the backseat after police obtained a search warrant.
The search for the sniper's
vehicle was launched thanks to a call suspect John Muhammad made to a
Catholic priest in Ashland, Virginia. The caller started his
conversation with words priests often hear from those with pained souls:
"I am God." Msgr. William Sullivan, pastor of St. Ann's Church in
Ashland, took the call. The disgruntled sniper wanted him to
verify to police that he was the killer, and was angry because the
police hadn't taken his calls to them seriously. He instructed
the priest to tell the law enforcement team to "check out Montgomery,
Alabama." Earlier, the sniper had left a message for police to
"check out Montgomery," but didn't emphasize the world "Alabama."
This time he did.
The police questioned the
priest on Sunday, the morning following the call. When they
checked out Montgomery, Alabama, they found two women had been shot
closing a liquor store in September resulting in the death of a one, 52,
and the wounding of another, 20. The method was similar to the
shootings by the sniper. One woman was shot in the face and died. But a fingerprint was left at the
scene, that of 17-year-old Malvo. The lead was traced only
after federal authorities got involved, and traced the fingerprint to
Malvo. Local police did not have access to the fingerprint records
the federal authorities had. Following Malvo's trail, the
suspect's car was then bulletined to the public.
Enter Ron Lantz, pulling into a
truck stop to rest, and ending up being a key part of the capture of one
of the most notorious serial killers in American history.
I found it fascinating
that two Vigilant citizens, one a Catholic priest, the other a truck
driver, ended up as vital cogs in the capture of a suspect alleged to have
killed so many for so little reason. The Web of Vigilance was
spun among the entire community, from the police to the public.
The conduit was the news media, broadcasting the urgency for information,
and demanding details from authorities who were reluctant to release
anything that might be misconstrued or jeopardize the
investigation. What forced so much public pressure was the threat
issued against the children--"your children aren't safe!" Vigilance
was tied directly to the children.
The pressure on law
enforcement was similar to the Amber
Alert, used to engage the general public in searching for suspects who
have kidnapped children and put them in harm's way. Amber Alert uses
the Emergency Broadcast System, and has been attributed to helping locate
missing children abducted by "Child Terrorists."
Law enforcement has a history of
holding its cards close to its chest. It tends not to involve
the public as part of its intelligence web. In the instance of
the Montgomery, Alabama shooting, local police did not have access to
federal records. Had they, they would have found Malvo's
fingerprints on file from U.S. Immigration and the FBI. Malvo is
It took a call from the irate sniper
to a local priest to launch the information ball, and resulted in Lantz
spotting the vehicle and enjoining another truck driver to box in the car
and "sweat out" 15 minutes with a "sniper time bomb" sitting just a few
feet away in a blue Chevy Caprice with his weapon an arm's reach away.
This is an example that Vigilance
belongs to the people, not to just a few. It is a community
effort, requiring far more than public expectation that "someone else" is in charge of its
security--i.e. police, law enforcement, federal, state or local.
I expect the media will dwarf the
roles of the Catholic priest and truck driver as mere appendages of law
enforcement, but the reverse is true. The true "Hand of
Vigilance" remains always with the average citizen, the Mothers, Fathers,
Grandparents, Citizens and Loved Ones of Vigilance. They are
the first line of defense, as evidenced by Lantz who boxed in the sniper
Hand of Vigilance
Terrorism is not a
national crime. It is a community crime. A neighborhood crime.
It is all about people seeking power over the innocent at their
doorsteps--in their school yards, sitting on a bus bench, filling a car
with gas, going to Home Depot. It's not about Terrorists
flying planes into World Trade Centers--that's an anomaly. It's
about injecting Fear in the average person.
And it's not just limited to America.
In Russia, Chechen Terrorists, 12
women and 12 men, are holding nearly 700 innocent people in a theater,
threatening to blow them to pieces unless Russia withdraws it forces from
their land. They have already killed a 20-year-old woman, and
vowed to kill everyone held captive unless their demands are met.
They are using Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as their weapons--the
bombs and bullets are incidental. But there's no respite from
Terrorism. Even as we lock up the sniper suspect, up pops even more
Today, the FBI released a Terrorist
Warning regarding trains, saying they had evidence that al-Qaeda is
planning to attack U.S. rail transportation.
to a report from Washington D.C., America is just as vulnerable as it was
on September 11, 2001. On Friday a sub-committee of the US
Commission on National Security/21st Century experts headed by Senators Gary Hart and Warren B. Rudman
cited that despite all the money spent since Nine Eleven, America is still
extremely vulnerable to Terrorist attacks. The panel had warned
in March 2001 of an impending attack.
Defending the slow process of
changing the posture of internal defense, Rudman said: "You can't
assume that because the president signs a bill in the Rose Garden,
everything will be fixed." I interpret this to mean that
the federal government alone cannot protect us from Terrorism, but all of
us, as one Vigilant Body, can.
One of the many flaws noted in
security report is that local police have little access to Terrorist
suspects, exemplified by the block between local and federal data in
the Malvo sniper case. Additionally, the prize panel-- comprising
two former secretaries of state, two former chairmen of the Joint Chief's
of Staff, a former FBI director and the president of Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center--noted that local
police departments do not have access to Terrorist watch lists provided by
the State Department to immigration and consular officials.
"The cops on the beat are effectively operating deaf, dumb and blind," and
"known Terrorists will be free to move about to plan and execute their
attacks," the report said.
also found, police, fire and other emergency workers lack equipment
needed to communicate during an emergency. In a more
frightening revelation, the panel cited that 95 percent of trade from
outside North America moves by sea, and the vulnerability for the nation's
50 largest ports is years from being secure. More than
21,000 containers arrive in U.S. ports each day, the report noted.
A catastrophic attack at one of those ports could shut
down American trade and cripple a large portion of the nation's economy,
In the final analysis, Vigilance,
like the proverbial buck, stops on the average citizen's doorstep, not the
president's desk. If America looks at itself closely, it will see far too
many of its citizens chewing on the stale bread of Complacency. For
many years, we have all lived with a sense of invincibility. The idea
we could be brought to our knees by a mad sniper, or that our shipping
could be contaminated by biochemical assault, paralyzing our economy, or
that planes could destroy two of the world's great financial icons, is
something from a Tom Clancy novel. No longer is fantasy not
reality. Terrorism is truly biting the hand that feeds it, and it
thirsts for Fear, Intimidation and Complacency among the rank and file.
Russian citizens are feeling a
similar impact. The idea that Terrorist just three miles from
the Kremlin are threatening to kill hundreds of innocent men, women and
children unless Russia
stops its war on Terrorist rebels is unfathomable to most. But when
enflamed Terrorists are
willing to blow themselves up, and take the innocent with them, we are all
forced to look at the world with a different pair of glasses--and not ones
ground out of the glass of Fear, Intimidation or Complacency.
New Pair Of
We must put on
the Glasses of Vigilance.
We must change our thinking
and reactions to Terrorism from Fear, Intimidation and Complacency to a stalwart sense of Courage,
Conviction and Right Actions. If we don't, Terrorism will win its
It won't be an easy
transition, but it is a necessary one.
Vigilance is all about biting
the Bullet of Terrorism. It requires us as individuals to each
carry a Shield of Vigilance wherever we go. The Russians who
went to see a fun, musical play are now facing the barrel of rifles and
surrounded by explosives that, by the push of a button, will explode and
bring an entire Cultural Center down, reigning death and destruction on
people who started their evening only seeking entertainment, not endless horror.
Not only must we bolster
our Physical Vigilance, but more importantly, our Emotional Vigilance.
We must not neglect the roots of Terrorism are seeded in children by
parents and loved ones.
On the news yesterday, I
was amazed when MSNBC psychological profiler, Pat Brown, suggested
the profile for the sniper was the result of his troubles that
began when he was a teenager, and that people who play Dungeons and
Dragons and watch Arnold Schwarzenegger movies tend to be seeking fame
Kid's drawing of
Arnie, THE TERMINATOR
was no mention by her, or Candice Delong, a former FBI profiler, that the
Seeds of Terror came from the lack of parenting, the lack of
teaching the child about the Principles of Vigilance.
There was this assumption
by the commentators that a twisted person becomes twisted, rather than is
twisted by neglect. There was no incrimination of parents or
grandparents or communities that turn their heads and allow violence and
abuse to permeate the young, malleable minds of youth seeking love and
I find it sad that our
society does not demand of all those who inflict pain and suffering on
others, an indictment of their parents, their loved ones, and society at
large, who, individually and collectively, neglect emphasizing
their development as "Children of Vigilance." This applies to
the privileged as well as underprivileged. The rich can
as easily neglect their children's emotional needs as easily as the poor.
Emotional abuse knows no social borders. Teen suicides provide
brutal evidence of that.
But when a child is raised under the
Principles of Vigilance, constantly being shown how conjure at least One
Percent more Courage than Fear,
One Percent more Conviction than Intimidation, and to take the Right Actions to the
benefit of the children's children's children rather than becoming
Complacent in selfish pursuits, it limits the growth of the Beast of
Terror within. It forms as a blocking force to drive away the
need to impose one's will on others, or to use the innocent as sacrifices
for causes, or to "revenge of avenge" ones self of sufferings.
Perhaps one day schools will teach children about Courage over Fear, about
Conviction over Intimidation, and Right Action over Complacency.
Perhaps they will promote to a child his or her duty as a human being to
stop and think before acting, and to consider the impact on the children,
the babies of innocence, as the measuring stick for their emotional
I am glad the sniper
Terrorist was caught by a Citizen of Vigilance. It supports
the need for more of them.
Ron Lantz, on the
edge of retirement, faced a Terrorist with no weapons except his Shield of
Vigilance. He mustered the Courage, Conviction and took the Right
Action. Now, for a brief moment, our streets are safe until the next
Terrorist pops up.
I'm also glad a Catholic priest
was a Citizen of Vigilance. Had he not taken the call, or listened,
or made a call to the authorities, who knows how many more innocent people
might have been needlessly slaughtered? But he was there, he
picked up the phone, he listened. He had his Ears of Vigilance
tuned into the right channel, as Ron Lantz had his Eyes of Vigilance
focused on the right target.
Finally, I know the
Pledge of Vigilance and Principles of Vigilance are not just by-products
of America's introduction to world Terrorism.
They will work both for Russian and Chechen citizens. When
people start to think in terms of "what's right for the children's
children's children,' the world will spin a little more secure on its
Life's Vigilant Journey
But the first
step on any long and arduous journey is a long one.
To start on the Journey of Vigilance one must first look at
himself or herself as a Citizen of Vigilance, and be ready to
employ the Principles of Vigilance in his or her life.
can begin today, by taking the Pledge of Vigilance and then
learning to live through the Principles of Vigilance.
journey today. Take the Pledge of Vigilance.
Violence & Russian WTC Terrorists
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