Looking for a little good news to start off the week?

Welcome to the tragedy that wasn’t.

Thursday evening, police arrested Jeremy H. Rogers, 25, at his fenced-in, barbed-wire-protected residence on Mount Pleasant Street in a remote section of Rockport.

They charged Rogers, who was from Norwalk, Connecticut, and had recently moved to Maine, with felony terrorizing with a dangerous weapon, felony terrorizing and felony possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

At the same time police were closing in on Rogers, the Walmart Supercenter in nearby Thomaston shut down and locked its doors three hours early, while the Walmart in Augusta was notified of a possible threat.

Why all the commotion?

Because, as reported by The Courier-Gazette’s Stephen Betts, the New York State Police had alerted law enforcement in Rockport of a video allegedly sent by Rogers through Facebook Messenger to a woman in New York. It showed a young man in a ski mask, believed to be Rogers, brandishing an AR-15 rifle and saying, “(Expletive) it, I’m going to Walmart.”

In a second video, according to a police affidavit, Rogers, without a mask and pointing a gun to his own head, makes disparaging comments about a woman.

And in yet a third video discovered on Facebook, police said, Rogers fires his AR-15 into the air on the same property where he was arrested.

We hear a lot in this era of mass shootings, particularly from those who argue against stricter gun control, that there’s too much emphasis on the weapons used in mass shootings and not enough on the people who use them.

When, they ask, are we going to start focusing on the shooters? Why doesn’t someone do some research on who they are and what prompts them to commit their ghastly attacks on perfect strangers?

Well, folks, someone is already doing it. It’s called “Mass Attacks in Public Spaces -2018” – the second annual report by the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center on who’s wreaking this havoc on American society and, to the best anyone can fathom, why.

The 20-page document, published in July, “was conducted for the specific purpose of identifying key information that will enhance efforts to prevent these types of attacks,” wrote James M. Murray, the center’s director, in his introduction.

The 2018 report examines 27 mass attacks – in which at least three people were harmed – in public places between January and December of last year. In all, the ambushes claimed 91 lives and left 107 injured – all people who started their day without a clue that it would end either in an emergency room or a morgue.

The report is telling in its own right. Juxtaposed with what just happened along midcoast Maine, it offers a real-time primer for recognizing and reacting to mass-attack threats before they reach their unspeakable fruition.

The National Threat Assessment Center found that all but three of the 27 attackers in 2018 were men, with well over half clustered between the ages of 25 and 44.

Rogers is 25.

Roughly half had criminal histories beyond minor traffic infractions.

According to the Norwalk Daily Voice, police arrested Rogers in 2016 after responding to a complaint of a man screaming that another person in the house had eaten food without paying for it.

The news site reported that police found Rogers in an upstairs bedroom with two unsecured guns, both with altered serial numbers, a violation of his probation. Rogers was later convicted of criminal possession of a firearm and risk of injury to a child, who was in the room when police arrived.

The report found that of the 27 attackers in 2018, 25 “engaged in prior threatening or concerning communications.” Much like Rogers allegedly did, three times, on Facebook.

All but five of the 27 attackers experienced significant “stressors” in the previous five years, including problems with family or romantic relationships. Police said Rogers, in one of his social media postings, made a derogatory reference to a woman.

More than three-quarters of the attackers behaved in manners that caused concern among others. Among the actions taken by those observers: “Online community members calling police.”

Which brings us to the most important factor that led up to Rogers’ arrest Thursday: Upon receiving his Facebook message, that woman in New York didn’t simply shrug and log off.

She called police in New York, who, upon learning from Rogers’ family that he’d recently moved to Maine, notified law enforcement in Rockport. Rockport police, in turn, quickly notified police in Thomaston, who alerted the two nearest Walmarts. Police in adjacent Rockland helped locate and arrest Rogers, who, as of Friday, was being held at the Knox County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.

Near-instantaneous mobilization. In this era of slaughter via semi-automatic, it’s the way life needs to be.

The report notes that since 2010, the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, originally the brainchild of New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, has beseeched everyday people to sound the alarm when something strikes them as threatening, alarming or just not quite right.

“In many of these cases from 2018, members of the general public successfully performed their role in the ‘See Something, Say Something’ process, by reporting their concerns to someone with a role in public safety,” the report says.  “At that point, the responsibility is on the public safety professionals to ‘Do Something,’ namely assessing the situation and managing as needed.”

That, in a nutshell, is precisely what happened here in Maine on Thursday evening.

Whether that means we were just spared our first entry on the ever-growing list of mass shootings in public places, we’ll never know for sure.

But we do know this: Jeremy Rogers – just blowing smoke or on the verge of turning another Walmart into hell on earth – ended up in handcuffs before anyone got hurt or killed.

That, by any measure these days, is the good news.


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