Acts of violence troubling trend

The use of violence to settle perceived grievances is a frightening trend that has spread to central Pennsylvania in recent months.

And it’s a predilection that can’t end too soon.

– On March 19, Bradley Gene Kollar, 40, of Hastings killed himself by setting off a large explosion in his vehicle in front of William M. Shaner’s home near Patton. The explosion demolished Shaner’s two-story home, seriously injured William Shaner and caused minor injuries to William’s teenage son, both of whom were home at the time.

Police said the attack was an attempted homicide, in part because Kollar called the Shaner home right before detonating his bomb, seemingly an effort to ensure his intended target was there.

– On March 23, Kenneth Robert Ayers shot and killed his 2-year-old son, wounded his estranged wife with shots to her legs, right arm and face and fired on but missed his mother – all during an arranged custody exchange and supervised visit at Kenneth’s mother’s house. Hours later he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

– On March 28, Mark Miscavish, a retired state trooper going through a divorce, took a 12-gauge shotgun to the County Line market in Philipsburg and shot his estranged wife twice in the chest, killing her, before turning the gun on himself.

– On Dec. 21, Jeffrey Lee Michael of Hollidaysburg went on a killing spree killing two male neighbors as well as a woman decorating the Juniata Valley Church for a Christmas party. Michael was killed in an armed confrontation with state police troopers.

– And while a gun wasn’t used in a Nov. 15 attack, the violent intent is clear. Aaron Wilson Dishong of East Freedom wanted to harm his ex-girlfriend and set fire to an Altoona duplex where he thought she was. The former girlfriend wasn’t there, but a mother and two young children were asleep on the third floor. By the time the mother awoke, only she and her 2-year-old daughter were able to escape the flames. She couldn’t get to her 3-year-old son, Daryl D.J. Etchison, who died at Altoona Regional after being pulled from the burning home by firefighters.

We wish these horrible crimes were an anomaly. Regrettably they are not. Seemingly daily there is news of violence stemming from anger somewhere in our nation.

In some cases, the toll is significant, such as the school massacre in Newtown, Colo., or the killings in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

But whether it’s only one or two deaths or dozens, the violent rampage is senseless and the grief experienced by those left behind is all too real.

We wish there was an easy answer to stop this pattern of using violence, but that’s not the case.

All we can do is continually remind each other that violence is not the solution and be vigilant about looking for any signs that someone might be ready to lash out with intent to harm or kill others.

The violence we are experiencing, especially in our own communities, is frightening and traumatic. We can only hope this violent rage dissipates before more of our friends and neighbors fall victim.