I'm sure by now you have read about the tragic murders that happened in College Station today. Highly respected and well-liked Constable Brian Bachmann was shot and killed while serving an eviction notice. Another innocent bystander, Chris Northcliff, was killed and several others were shot by a 35-year-old mentally disturbed man named Thomas Caffall.
Most of you know that I grew up in Bryan/College Station, and I love that town and the people of it very dearly. Although this type of violence is horrifying regardless of where it happens, reading about it happening in the town where I grew up makes the tragedy more intense in my mind.
In my mind, Bryan/College Station will always be the small town where I grew up. It was where my grandparents lived. It was where I went to church. It was where I learned to drive. It was where I went to high school.
All of the small and simple things that I don't think about on a daily basis happened there, and they remain intrinsically part of my psychological DNA.
Things like this don't happen in Bryan/College Station, do they?
Members of law enforcement there are treated with the respect of members of the military. I can't remember one ever being wounded in the Line of Duty -- let alone killed.
It is a Community that will rally around the wife and family of Constable Brian Bachmann, as well it should. It will lend its condolences to the family of Mr. Northcliff, as well.
Bryan/College Station will come together and heal -- just like it did after the Bonfire Tragedy in 1999.
One person who won't be mourned or missed in the Community will be Thomas Caffall. Apparently his erratic behavior had long since alienated his friends and family.
Mental illness can often do that.
But Thomas Caffall, who went by the name of Tres, was part of that Community, as well.
When I was a little kid, my aunt and uncle were headed out of town for an extended period of time. They had a black and white cocker spaniel named Rex that they asked my family to find a home for. I was kind of hoping my folks would let us make Rex a full-time pet, but that was not to be. Rex was adopted by a family from my church.
For whatever random reason, I remember the day they came to pick Rex up. The family had two young children -- a little boy and a little girl. The boy was about four years younger than me and his name was Tres Caffall.
I remember him telling me that he was going to rename the dog "Max," which I did not approve of at all, at the time. For some reason, I remember that Tres had a pretty significant runny nose when they came to pick up Rex/Max. I don't know why I remember that.
But most of all, I remember that Tres seemed very happy to have a new dog.
I never really spoke to him after that. He was much younger than me. I saw him and his family in church from time to time. Every once in a while, I would get an update on how "Max" was doing in his new home.
In later years, I would hear more about the Caffall family, and their son, Tres.
No matter how big Bryan/College Station gets, the rumor mill of my hometown will always keep its small town roots.
Tres Caffall had a hard life. A tragic life. If one wasn't already genetically programmed to suffer from mental illness, the things that kid went through would have certainly been enough to induce it. I'm not going to go into the things that I heard he went through in his later years.
I don't write any of this to excuse or even mitigate what Tres Caffall did today. Mostly, I'm just thinking out loud.
When the first reports released the College Station shooter's name, it sounded familiar. I looked him up on Facebook and confirmed what I suspected. Although it has probably been thirty years since I had that brief conversation about a dog, it was definitely that same kid.
And for some reason, that made me terribly sad.
He didn't have a lot of photographs on his Facebook page. As the media pointed out, many of the pictures were of assault rifles.
But in his profile picture, there is a picture of a smiling man, who is hugging his dog. I can only hope that somewhere in his tortured existence, he found some comfort there.
I know I'm rambling, but I keep thinking about it.
Maybe it isn't the time to express anything other than outrage about what happened today in College Station.
Maybe the time for pity for Tres Caffall will come later. Maybe it won't.
He wasn't my friend. I have no personal stake in this.
I just can't shake the bizarre feeling of trying to reconcile the pictures on the news with that memory of the kid who was so happy to be getting a new dog.
Maybe I'm just sad about what happened today in the little town where I grew up.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Constable Bachmann and Mr. Northcliff, as well as all those injured today.
And, it may not be the most popular thing to say right now, but they are with that boy with the runny nose, too.