I Don’t Know What To Do With What I Feel

Yesterday, in Stanislaus County, California

TURLOCK — A crazed man parked on a dark country road Saturday night, took a toddler from the car seat in his pickup and beat the boy to death until a Modesto police officer, dropped on the scene by helicopter, shot the man dead, authorities said.

Passers-by calling 911 at 10:13 p.m. described a horrific scene on West Bradbury Road near the intersection of South Blaker Road in rural Stanislaus County, 10 miles west of Turlock. At least one tried to stop the 27-year-old attacker, who swung and slammed the toddler into the asphalt and stomped on him behind his parked four-door Toyota pickup.

“In the shadows and light it looked like he had hit an animal,” said Dan Robinson, the chief of Crows Landing Volunteer Fire Department, who came upon the chaos on his way home from a late dinner in Turlock. “As we backed up again, I could see that he had blood on his arms. I could see that it was a small child.”

Modesto Bee

The articles I’ve read state that witnesses attempted to stop the man but couldn’t. How can this be? How can adults fail to protect a baby? The man exclaimed the boy had demons in him. How is it that a bunch of adults failed to somehow grab the child away or pile on top of the attacker to subdue him? I know, I wasn’t there, I shouldn’t judge. I’m trying not to judge. I ask the questions out of shock and horror, because this news is difficult to apprehend.

Once police arrived on the scene, the attacker was shot to death. The child is guessed to be 12 to 24 months old, but DNA tests will be needed to identify him, because the boy was beaten beyond recognition.

I want to weep.

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14 Comments on “I Don’t Know What To Do With What I Feel”

  1. kathleen Says:

    i would be really grateful if you would consider putting some kind of an alert, warning, or spoiler on articles of this nature.

    i know it/they happen, but i have to protect myself from reading about them. i am not in denial. i meditate every day about things like this, to end the suffering of the innocent, and i am very specific when i meditate about it.

    thank you for listening.


  2. Mark Says:

    Although there is limited data on this, apparently the first few people on the scene were elderly. If this man was as crazed as he sounds, he was probably similar to being high. I doubt they could have stopped him if they wanted to.

    Not to defend anyone’s actions – it made me sick too – but I just want to provide a possible antidote to your “Why?”

  3. Imelda / GreenishLady Says:

    Oh, Kathryn, that is heartrending to contemplate. One of the things I found about becoming a mother was that my heart just opened wide to stories of children’s suffering. I cannot imagine witnessing such a scene, but I feel really bad for the people who were there and unable to stop it for whatever reason.

  4. Kathryn Says:

    Kathleen, I’m sorry this is upsetting to you. There was a time when I couldn’t tolerate this kind of news, and I went on a “media diet” for a long time. I still use a lot of caution in this; I don’t actively seek out such news items. And I rarely post on the things that I do encounter; this one has just torn me so deeply.

    When I post, I assume the readers will use discernment with regard to their own interests, capabilities, etc. I think the safest thing to do is to be alert and at the first sign of something that is upsetting, stop reading. Or, since once the information is comprehended it can’t be undone, I trust that readers will use their own coping methods in dealing with it. I am reluctant to accommodate this kind of request from readers; that opens a door to trying to please and/or protect innumerable people. Still, I’ll give your suggestion some thought.

  5. Laura Says:


    I saw this on the news yesterday, and I wanted to cry as well. But if the man was as crazed as he sounds, the first people on the scene may have been physically unable to stop them. Sure, 2-4 strapping young teenagers in good shape could have made a difference – but what about elderly people, frail people, pregnant women, etc.? I don’t know exactly who was first on the scene, but I doubt that I would have been able to effectively intervene if I had been. (Mind you, if a few other adults who could had been there, I could have helped – but I would not have been useful as the only or first person into the fray.)

    That poor, poor baby.

    (And perhaps, for sensitive readers, just a quick line such as “(Sad news story, and my thoughts on it, follow)” at the top of the entry? That way, readers can skip away if they don’t want to see such. Although someone on a no-news diet would logically dodge as soon as they saw it was a quote from a news source, someone just trying to avoid the bad stuff might find it easier with a warning. I’m not saying you should, but if you decide to do something in the future, that might be a way to put up a warning with minimal invasiveness to the rest of the post.)

  6. TP Says:

    Sounds like the guy was having a psychotic break. If this were in fact the case, those who tried to intervene might have met a tragic end themselves.

    As for the content, in my opinion, write about the subjects you want to write about. As you suggest, it’s the responsibility of your readers to take care of themselves.

  7. kathleen Says:

    (And perhaps, for sensitive readers, just a quick line such as “(Sad news story, and my thoughts on it, follow)” at the top of the entry? That way, readers can skip away if they don’t want to see such>>

    that’s really all i had in mind…..

    the world doesn’t have to shape itself around my sensitivities. . it would be a bizarre place if that happened! however, in this case, maybe because i’m an editor and because i read fast, i had way more content than i could manage within 2 seconds. i guess on your blog i come to be nurtured, and would have had some context with the words the other commenter mentioned (above). by those words i’d have thought, you know, maybe i will read this [potentially upsetting thing] when i can handle it, not first thing in the morning, unguarded.

    the child’s suffering is over. that is the important thing.

    thanks for listening


  8. marta Says:

    People should intervene if they can, but what about those of us who are mothers? I’d want to do the right thing, the best thing, the thing we know we ought to do, but I also want to be there for my son, and I’m not sure what I would do if it meant my own harm and my son’s motherlessness.

    It is not a choice anyone wants.

  9. Tonya McDermott Says:

    I agree with you. I had the same feelings — how could you not stop him. I would have thrown myself on the baby. I don’t understand either. But I also believe these people are going to have to live with their actions/inactions and only they know if they could have done something more. I pray that they have good conscious and they know they did everything in their power to stop this horrendous crime. My husband calmed me down last night saying that the baby was most likely already dead based on the description of the beating. I am glad that this man (who I am assuming is the father) is no longer alive to hurt anyone else. I pray for the police officer and his wellbeing as well. As far as Marta’s comments — we need to set examples for our children as well. Actions speak louder than words. I would rather my children know I died a hero trying to save an innocent child than walked away to save myself even for their benefit.

  10. gerry rosser Says:

    I saw this story in the news. I am horrified whenever I hear of abuse of children. This story is different only in degree, not kind, from thousands of others which, no doubt, go on every day. I’m glad the police shot the guy dead. I don’t know enough about the circumstances to blame passersby for any inaction.

    I see no need to preface your blog posts with warnings.

  11. marta Says:

    There are times to die a hero, but you can hardly know when that is until faced with the situation–and only then do you know how you will react. But the witnesses will not be only ones who live with what they saw and did or didn’t do. So will their loved ones who see what happens in the middle of the night.

  12. Chad Says:

    I think I know why they couldn’t stop him.

    In order to stop something like this, you have to do a number of things.

    You have to see what’s happening.

    You have to register what’s happening.

    In all likelihood, after seeing and understanding, you will likely need to ask yourself if what you think you’re seeing is really happening. You may do this several times.

    You then need to determine that something must be done.

    You need to realize that someone has to figure out what that is.

    You need to realize that the person that has to figure out what to do and how to do it is you.

    Then you need to figure out what it is that you’re going to try first.

    Whatever it is will not likely be sufficient in this scenario. And then you need to figure out why.

    You need to then figure out that you need to tap into that same rage buried deep in your soul this guy has grabbed with both hands; heaping hands full.

    And then you need to continue.

    But most likely, by the time that you got to this point, it was too late for the child.

  13. Kathryn Says:

    Chad, this was an excellent explanation of the process. I agree with you. In the time it takes of comprehend the horror that is unfolding and to access the physical strength equal to the attacker via adrenaline/rage, it would be too late. My hope and comfort (cold indeed) is that the first blow is what killed the child and he didn’t suffer. I’ll never know. All I can do is transform my grief into love and give it to my child and other children I know.

  14. Chad Says:

    Indeed. Discomforting as this thought is, the ‘grabbing heaping handfuls of rage’ is something I’ve been taught how to do. Yet, I don’t suffer from the delusion that I could have been much help to the poor little one.