The Times Record of Brunswick, Dec. 23:

A student from Bowdoin College is fatherless after the shooting of two New York City police officers who were sitting in their car the Saturday before Christmas.

The alleged shooter left an Instagram post that said he was going to shoot a couple of cops in retaliation for the police killings of two unarmed black men in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. He then committed suicide.

The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was a troubled man with a violent past. He had been arrested numerous times, hated the police and was mentally unstable. He’d already attempted suicide once. He’d shot the ex-girlfriend who had saved him from that suicide attempt, just hours before shooting the officers.

It is unknown whether he took part in the protests that have sprung up across the country or not in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. Neither of the two nonwhite officers was involved in either situation. In that sense, it was a random crime.

But in another sense, the shooting was anything but random.

The protests, and the perception of injustice surrounding the issue of the violence that too often ensues after an encounter, especially when the suspect is black and the police officers are white, were at least part of the reason for the shootings. In 2014, more than a hundred African-Americans were killed by white police officers around the country. At least 14 of them were unarmed; another 30 were mentally ill. In only a few instances were the police officers involved indicted, and in only one or two more lost their jobs over the death. When a high-profile case like Michael Brown’s or Eric Garner’s arises, all the other cases are suddenly under the microscope.

And when justice is perceived to have been miscarried, especially in the Garner case where the whole encounter was caught on video and the police officer involved was not indicted, anger can’t help but explode.

The murder of these innocent police officers, however, was not justice. It was terrorism.

We grieve with the Bowdoin son of one of the officers and his family, and with the other officer’s family as well. The murders were committed by a mentally unstable man with a seriously troubled past. He likely didn’t need the controversy surrounding Brown’s and Garner’s death to do what his whole life had been arcing toward; it merely provided a convenient excuse, that’s all.

We can have great respect for our law enforcement, locally and nationally, and still want them held to higher standards by grand juries and prosecutors. We can be concerned about police brutality and overreach when police intersect with communities of color, while also mourning the loss of these officers.

We ask that everyone ”“ police and civilians alike ”“ take a deep breath and calm down. Remember the families of the fallen ”“ police and civilians alike ”“ at this difficult time of year. Reach out, as Bowdoin College is doing, to help them cope with their losses. Acknowledge the complex position those in elected government are in, trying to balance the needs of the community with support for their police forces. But don’t allow this incident to make you afraid to question authority, especially when the authority is questionable.