During a week in which so many innocents and those who protect the rest of us with valor died and were hurt by the bombs and bullets of hate, a woman who knows what violence and rage can do urged love.
In York on Friday, Ida Neal Lord – a woman left for dead after being shot by a domestic terrorist in 2008, a woman who has every right to watch the carnage in Boston and the explosive grief in Texas and call for heads to roll – instead volunteered with the disabled.
Lord, 47, helped out at the adult day care where she was a patient for four years while recovering from being shot by serial shooter and just-paroled felon Phillip Watts. She was initially paralyzed and had to use a wheelchair to get around, but she fought back.
She now can walk and drive, even though her body is damaged forever.
But her heart, Ida Neal Lord says, was not broken. Her will was not shattered. And she asked others to not let hate break their hearts or shatter compassion for others.
“My heart hurts for those in Boston, the people dead and their families, and those injured and scared,” Lord said Friday. “The police officer dead. That is sick. The other one shot. Awful. Those people at the race. Blown up. A child dead.
“Some of them, the families, those who got hurt, they think right now that maybe they can’t go on. But I am here, alive, and I would tell anybody that we can’t hate our way to a better life. Jesus wants us to love each other.”
Watts shot four people in an awful, months-long crime spree in 2008. Lord was his final victim. A few days later, police found Watts in an apartment. Police believed then that Watts wanted to go out in a blaze of glory – just like so many people are concerned in Boston, where two bombing suspects shot at police and threw bombs at them before one was killed and the other was captured Friday night.
Yet the Rock Hill officers who caught Watts, Steve Thompson and now-retired Charles Cabaniss, barged through that apartment door and apprehended Watts, because public safety came first then and it still does.
Steve Thompson is still a police officer in Rock Hill who every day risks his own life for us.
Cabaniss, now head of security at Catawba Nuclear Station on Lake Wylie, said Friday he was praying for those Boston officers who were in the “eye” of the search for the second bombing suspect.
It is those heroic cops who do not yield to danger, hate, guns or bombs.
‘That is what we do’
In March 2005, felon John David Phillips robbed the Bank of America on Dave Lyle Boulevard in Rock Hill. Officer Tim Greene, on his way to work, was flagged down by a witness and saw the robber fleeing.
Phillips shot 12 times at Greene. Greene’s patrol car windshield was smashed. One bullet went into the car and right through the tie Greene was wearing. Greene’s face was littered with glass fragments.
Greene did not quit chasing Phillips. He chased him for miles. Phillips stopped twice and shot at Greene, 18 times, and then four more times with an assault rifle that held a 40-bullet clip.
Other officers who had joined the pursuit, including Cabaniss, finally shot Phillips nine times.
Police soon found out that Phillips had bought ammunition just two hours before at the Walmart on Dave Lyle Boulevard, and had written a manifesto on how to avoid police and create havoc if being pursued.
Tim Greene, who is no longer in police work, later afterward: “This story is no different than the millions of law enforcement officers around the country that put their lives in harm’s way so the rest of the country doesn’t have to.”
President George W. Bush personally thanked Greene for his courage and gave him the Medal of Valor. The Legislature honored Greene, officers John Hewitt and Jason Zike, Cabaniss, and others who helped that awful day.
Somehow, through the courage of Greene and others, no victim or bystander was wounded or killed that day. The cops did not quit, to protect the public. To protect us.
Just like the officers and firefighters in Boston and Texas did not quit, even though some were injured and some died.
“The public expects us to protect them, so that is what we do,” said Mark Bollinger, executive officer for the Rock Hill Police Department. “The officers who apprehended Watts, those with Tim Greene that day, that’s what happened. The job is keeping the public safe.”
No one quits
In February 2010, a dope dealer shot York County drug agent Will Reap during an arrest. Reap shot back and wounded the criminal. Another officer outside, Trista Baird, was shot in the wrist. The criminal, Tymon Wells, later went to prison for decades.
Baird, with a rebuilt wrist after surgery, still protects children as a detective investigating child abuse complaints. Reap protects people as a street crimes officer in Fort Mill. Neither quit.
“I wish I was there helping to catch this guy,” Baird said Friday.
The Boston terrorists robbed a convenience store and shot two cops before hijacking an SUV. Cops did not stop chasing them.
The commander of the York County drug unit, Marvin Brown, said he knew the Boston officers would not stop until the second suspect was caught or dead.
After a violent crime last year, Brown apprehended a murder suspect at a convenience store southeast of Rock Hill. He grabbed the fleeing felon and his gun and handcuffed the suspect. He then grabbed a dope dealer passenger in the car who had a gun and drugs.
By himself that night, to protect strangers at the store, Marvin Brown had two felons in custody, and three handguns, plus confiscated marijuana and cocaine, on the hood of the car by the time more officers responded.
“The deputy who arrived first looked at me and said, ‘That’s old school,’ but I never thought twice about it,” Brown said Friday. “The officers in Boston (didn’t) stop, either. This guy they (were) after is a threat to public safety.”
Cabaniss and Brown, in 1984, captured an armed robber who had shot at police and other people repeatedly in 14 crimes over a month’s time, and again that day, and never quit. Both men were shot at and could have died that day. Neither quit.
Don’t give in
In November 2011, four drug agents in Lancaster stopped an armed robbery in progress at a restaurant. Deputy Brandon Rollins was shot trying to protect employees and customers.
Just this week, the shooter, Rodrick Caskey, got 30 years in prison and Rollins, a hero like the other three officers who acted to protect others that night, told the man who tried to kill him he forgave him.
Rollins then went back to work protecting the rest of us.
The horror of what people in America do to other human beings felt almost overwhelming this week. These terrorists maimed and killed, then killed a cop and wounded another.
Still, officers do not quit.
In York, Ida Neal Lord, a victim of violence just like the Boston victims, said the easy thing to do is hate and hurt back. She said the police can handle catching criminals. And people need to thank the police for doing it.
“I’m here, I made it back, but the person who did this isn’t here,” she said. “The police caught him, and I thank them, always.”
That criminal is in jail for seven life terms. He will die in prison. Ida Neal Lord has disabilities to her arm, leg, back and brain – but she has life. She has three sons and 10 grandchildren.
She has every reason and every right to hate criminals, demand swift and lethal retribution. A criminal took her ability to make a living as a nurse.
Lord even asked her son to contact the White House and Steve Harvey’s radio show, so she could share her story.
“If any of those people who got hurt needs someone to tell them to keep trying, to not give up, to not give in to the hate that hurt them, I would do it for them,” Lord said.