LONSBERRY: Sometimes You Need A Warrior


        Actually, sometimes you do need a warrior.

               Like last Friday, up near Hudson and Avenue D.

               When Timothy Flowers was on the run. Him and his nine.

               What a team they’ve been. Five shot, one crippled, and though nobody’s dead, it’s not for want of trying.

               On 8thStreet, in early May, it was an argument before 9 in the morning and bang, bang, bang, bang, bang it was one man on the ground and Timothy Flowers and his nine on the run.

               Three days later, on Genesee, at about closing time, it was a house party emptying out and Timothy Flowers and his nine put 11 rounds into the crowd. One man took two and went down, and everybody else ran off, screaming, having, literally, dodged a bullet and escaped death.

               That’s Timothy Flowers and his nine. That’s Rochester and its reality. That’s what the mothers pray their children will survive. That’s what the candles and the balloons and the empty Hennys mourn.

               And that’s what the Rochester Police Department is sworn to stop.

               Cursed on the evening news, defunded by the mayor, hated by the ministers, spat on by the protesters, depended on by the community.

               The only thing standing between good and evil in this town is the Rochester Police Department, the Thin Blue Line of men and women who hear the insults of the hateful and answer the prayers of the fearful.

               And sometimes you need a warrior.

               Like last Friday, up near Hudson and Avenue D.

               When Timothy Flowers and his nine reared back to where his instinct told him the closest pursuing officer would be. When Timothy Flowers and his nine reared back and the gun went off and the bullet ripped through the cop’s uniform.

               Like on Monroe a month ago tomorrow, when Timothy Flowers and his nine stood next to a car with five people inside and riddled it with bullets. Fourteen rounds. Glass breaking and people shouting and blood spurting. Fish in a barrel. Sons and daughters in a car. Horror on the avenue. Two who will have scars, and one who will never walk or hug again.

               That’s Timothy Flowers and his nine. That’s Rochester and its reality. That’s what the mothers pray their children will survive. That’s what the candles and the balloons and the empty Hennys mourn.

               And that’s evil. Plain and simple. Death on the prowl. Savagery on the streets.

               And sometimes you need a warrior.

               They followed him all day Friday. A department-wide investigation had identified him and tied him to shootings. In this springtime of slaughter, he was a face card. And from a distance they watched.

               But for hours he was never alone. Sometimes around children, sometimes around women, sometimes with random strangers.

               And the police held back, unseen, unsuspected, not wanting to endanger anyone as they took him into custody. And late in the afternoon they got their chance. He was alone. He was in the open. And so, with SWAT in the lead, they made their move.

               And he ran.

               He ran fast and hard.

               And they ran after him.

               They ran after them.

               Timothy Flowers and his nine.

               And Timothy Flowers and his nine reared back to where his instinct told him the closest pursuing officer would be, and the gun bucked as he pulled the trigger.

               But this was SWAT – special weapons and tactics – and SWAT men don’t stand where instinct says they’ll be. The tactics are special; it’s in the name. And Timothy Flowers and his nine tagged the cop’s uniform, but they didn’t tag the cop, and in that fight it was good versus evil, a predator against the sheep dogs, and he threw first lead, but they drew first blood.

               And sometimes you need a warrior.

               Like last Friday, up near Hudson and Avenue D.

               When officers of the Rochester Police Department, investigators and SWAT team alike, combined to bring to ground a man whose last criminal act was trying to kill a policeman, a man whose previous month alone had brought so much suffering to so many. A man who lived by the sword and died by the sword.

               And while the reporters and the attorney general cluck about whether or not it was justified, and who will be on desk duty for how long, and the anchors gleefully recite the evils alleged against the department and arch their eyebrows about who does and does not have a body-worn camera, the reality is that these cops are heroes.

               The effectiveness of their actions that day, the thoroughness of their investigation leading up to it, their tactical expertise in direct-contact combat, all speak volumes about the professional competence, integrity and sense of duty among the officers of the Rochester Police Department.

               Their victory last Friday should be honored.

               They literally deserve a medal.

               Closing with and bringing to ground Timothy Flowers and his nine was an act of stunning courage and competence. And instead of having to defend it, the Rochester Police Department should be celebrating it. Ending this one-man crime spree was a great victory for the department and the community.

               He should have surrendered.

               He also shouldn’t have shot all those people.

               But he did what he did, and he got what he got. And while we mourn with his mother, we rejoice with his community, and we thank its defenders.

               Because sometimes you need a warrior.

               And the men and women of the Rochester Police Department are the warriors who keep watch over the good people of the city they are sworn to protect.