After breaking into an elderly widow’s house twice in a row, two teenagers were killed by an armed occupant, in self-defense. Steven Crider, 17, and Michael Sambrano, 14, were shot in the chest numerous times. Now, the dead thieves’ friends and family are publicly complaining that “it was wrong that they were shot” and that the thieves were just “tryin’ to eat.”
Everyone needs to eat, but how many people actually need to steal in order to satisfy their need for sustenance? Without knowing all the circumstances of their lives, it doesn’t seem that the two dead thieves were destitute or starving. To the contrary, they had money for several urban-themed fashion accessories.
Based on the photos they posted on social media, the teens had enough resources for neck tattoos, arm tattoos, jewelry, and fancy baseball caps. From their style of dress and gestures, we can see them mimicking hip hop or gang mannerisms.
Crider, the older of the two teens, had a tattoo on his neck reading “Ashleigh,” possibly inspired by his girlfriend Ashleigh Davison. Davison said of Crider, “He was a good person. He was just misunderstood.”
The Youngest of Eight Children, Dead Thief was “Tryin’ to Eat”
What if Crider was really not misunderstood? Perhaps his problem was that he was understood for exactly what he was: a self-absorbed, misguided teen who had chosen the wrong path in life. Here was a young man who carried himself and behaved – on several occasions – like a thug. Here was a young man who managed to attain and flaunt the shallow trappings of contemporary urban youth in its worst iteration.
Cindy Crider, the thief’s mother, said of her son, the youngest of her eight children:
I’m never gonna forget this till the day I die, wondering how my son felt, the last breath he took, what he seen [sic].
When the founders wrote that a free society depends on a moral populace, they may have had a cautious foreboding that the likes of Crider and her progeny would one day walk among us.
Friends and family of the dead robbers are offering very modern, progressive perspectives on the incident. “They were on their way out the door, and I just think it was wrong that they were shot,” said Michael’s sister Christina Sambrano.
Stanton Samenow, a clinical psychologist who has worked with criminals for three decades, rejects the excuse that criminals act out of hunger or need:
Criminals may complain about lack of opportunity, discrimination, etc. but sport cell phones, other electronics, designer label tennis shoes, etc. They seem to manage to obtain what they want.
According to Samenow, author of “Inside the Criminal Mind,” pointing to hunger is a convenient way for certain people to avoid facing the truth about crime.
There are people who rob for the sheer excitement of it. There is excitement at every phase – planning the crime, excitement en route to the crime, excitement during the commission of the crime, and excitement in getting away with it. Glib formulations about hunger causing crime enable people to make sense of what seems to not make sense.
The late James Q. Wilson said that the problem of crime “reflected a defect of character.” But perspectives like Wilson’s have largely been silenced by academia today. Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson says that “social scientists, and especially sociologists, have abandoned or underplayed the fundamental concepts of norms and values.” Norms and values, not hunger, are exactly what would explain the conduct of the two suburban gangsters.
Value judgments critical of criminals may be hard to come by in academia or the news media, but there was no holding back on the part of the widow’s neighbors, several of whom spoke to reporters and openly defended the shooting. “Justice was served,” said Robert Robinson, an area resident whose home was recently broken in to.
Another neighbor, speaking to a reporter, said:
He was not an innocent bystander. I’m sorry the little boys or teenagers were killed, but if it’s my family, my family comes first.
Only time will tell whether self-preservation and moral judgment can withstand the corrosive influence of false compassion and toxic tolerance.
In addition to the break-ins at the widow’s home, there had been a rash of robberies and break-ins in the surrounding neighborhood. On April 20, the widow’s home was broken into, and her purse, keys, and jewelry were stolen. Fingerprints from that break-in match prints taken from the home where the shooting occurred.
On April 29, burglars broke a window at 2:00 a.m. but ran off before stealing anything. A friend and neighbor of the widow said, “This Easter, she was robbed, and so she had replaced her deadbolt locks with double locking deadbolts and they still got in after that.”
After this second break-in, the widow asked her brother to stay with her for protection.
On May 4, the two teens attempted to break in again. However, the homeowner’s brother was home, and the teens were shot dead after breaking in. Crider, 16 years old, and Sambrano, 14 years old, were reportedly shot multiple times in the chest. Local police say the shooting was done in self-defense.
If there are fewer robberies in the neighborhood now, we might take that as a sign that the people “tryin’ to eat” suddenly figured out another way to do so.
Cross-posted at American Thinker