Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Rest of the Story...

It was a "crime" that really got to a lot of people.

14 year old Tyler Winstead was shot to death Thursday evening, near his home, on Hill Street in Wilkes-Barre.  At first, it had all the appearances of a drive by shooting, with police looking for a man in a red car.

Right from the beginning, things didn't add up.  We were told, and no one disputed, that Tyler was a good kid.  A very good kid.  How did this happen?

The district attorney told Newswatch 16 people on Hill Street shouldn't be worried about a killer striking again.  We could see there wasn't much of a sense of urgency in the search for the man in the red car.  Signs continued to point in another direction.

By the way, I always hate when those in law enforcement try to calm the public by saying deadly shootings were not random acts.  Clearly, you have a person out there capable of killing, and if you can do it once, you can easily do it again.

Tyler was a student at GAR Jr/Sr High School in Wilkes-Barre.  The school brought in counselors Tuesday morning, the first day of classes after Winstead's death.  I talked with a few students, trying to learn what Tyler was like, and in an effort to add some perspective to the story, I talked with the school's assistant principal.

A GAR student nearly got his hand hacked off in a machete attack in February.  There was talk of intense tension between blacks and Dominicans.  Now, a student "apparently" murdered in the street.  I noted that both acts were off school property, and after school hours.  The assistant GAR principal agreed to go on camera with me.  I asked if GAR has an image problem.  He said that violence isn't just a GAR problem.  It's a Wilkes-Barre problem, and at GAR, they are doing their part to help fix it.  The solutions?  Education and security.  Kids have to feel safe at school.  Parents need to be reassured that their kids are going to come home alive.

The openness at the school was a bit surprising.  The Wilkes-Barre Area School District isn't really known for its television cooperation.  I was shooed off the sidewalk in front of Coughlin HS while I was attempting to do a story on a Hillary Clinton visit in 2008, and the district doesn't like TV cameras in their buildings.  The assistant principal had to go on camera Tuesday morning.  There was no other option.  Students and parents needed to be reassured.  Crisis management can make you, or break you.

There will come a day when we will really know what happened to Tyler Winstead.  All that can be said right now is things are often not as they first appear.