This past weekend’s senseless killing of a young Saratoga County woman continues to dominate headlines, not just in upstate New York, but across the country. 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was out with three friends in the Town of Hebron when they got lost and pulled into the driveway of 65-year-old Kevin Monahan. The driver’s decision turned out to be fatal. As the young people were leaving, Monahan opened fire, one of the shots hit Gillis. With no cell phone or internet service, Gillis was unable to receive the treatment she needed and succumbed to her injuries. Monahan has been charged with second degree murder. Tragic? Yes, but should it be a story of national import? Only if the objective is to push a political narrative of white males being prone to settling matters by shooting first and asking questions later. Authorities don’t know why Monahan chose to fire on a vehicle that was leaving his driveway. A motive will probably be revealed during further investigation. The victim was white, as is the shooter.
Most of the mainstream media is pairing this story with one in which a black teenager in Kansas City was shot in the head after ringing the wrong doorbell. The shooter in that case is also white, so obviously there is a racial angle that is being exploited. 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot twice by 84-year-old Andrew Lester after Yarl went to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers. Lester claims he feared for his life. Missouri is a Stand Your Ground state, so it is possible Lester’s attorneys will claim the shooting was in self-defense. Not only is New York lacking a Stand Your Ground law, it’s a state that favors criminals over victims.
The Kansas City Star reported that Yarl was hospitalized last Thursday after he was shot while trying to pick up his twin brothers from a friend's house. Even though authorities believe the Yarl shooting was not racially motivated, the vultures are already circling. Family attorney Ben Crump said, “It is inescapable not to acknowledge the racial dynamics at play." The Yarl family has been invited to the White House. As of this printing, no similar invitation has been extended to the family of Kaylin Gillis. You can draw your own conclusions as to why not.
Thanks to social media and the 24-hour news cycle Gillis’ story is still grabbing headlines. Many young people have added the Gillis tragedy to their Instagram “stories” and Facebook posts. Some of them are trying to use this as an opportunity to gain more attention online. A quick check of a few social media sites shows that users want to make the story about them or about pushing a given narrative. Award-winning actress Viola Davis made sure to post the story of the Gillis murder to her twitter account to give her one million followers a chance to vent about “white dudes with guns being the problem that needs to be dealt with.” Much of social media is being used to gin up outrage and anger at the shooter without any consideration for the victim’s family.
Kaylin Gillis’ father has issued a statement on Facebook pleading with well-meaning friends and others to please respect the family’s right to privately grieve the loss of their daughter. We would all do well to honor his request.