Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Guam: The Unpredictability and Emergence of the Mentall Ill, Assailant Kills 2, Injures 11

According to The Pacific Daily News, as well as AFP, at least two Japanese tourists were killed and 11 wounded when a knife-wielding man, age 20, went on a stabbing spree late on Tuesday (February 12) after crashing into a convenience store near the Outrigger Guam Resort and then, using a knife, proceeded to slash at every person he came in contact with. Fortunately, the assailant was promptly arrested.

Guam governor Eddie Calvo said the attack had stunned the nation of about 180,000, which attracts almost a million visitors from Japan annually, providing a major source of revenue for the economy. 

Governor Calvo later emphasized, “We are shocked and grieving with the families of those who were injured and who died,” he said in a statement addressed “to the people of Japan....This is not the kind of thing that happens in our community. Anyone who has been to Guam knows this.”

The assailant has been identified as Chad Ryan DeSoto, 21, of Tamuning. He has been charged with two counts of murder,  13 counts of attempted murder and 13 counts of aggravated assault. Japanese media reported the dead were two women aged 28 and 82; the survivors included an 8-month-old infant.

COMMENT: Victims of the assailant spanned the ages of eight months to 82. Hospital staff told the media that interpreters were being provided to the Japanese patients who were hospitalized.

As we have seen throughout the world in recent years, particularly when the mentally ill engage in violence against the innocent in unprovoked attacks, the global community MUST promptly address the sociological crisis posed by persons who threaten themselves or others.

As I have said far too often in the past, all travelers, by necessity, must develop a strong sense of personal security awareness for those times when those among us engage in unchecked, wholesale violence as a result of mental disease or defect.

Although by nature most of us view a glass as half-full, the reality is that many people we encounter each day may not be mentally well. A good thing to keep in mind.

Unfortunately, we never know when our lives will go from normal to a life-altering crisis, which is why I urge all citizens of the world to take Red Cross first aid and CPR courses if they have already not done so. Such training will give you the skills to safeguard not only yourself, but others as well.   

Guam, a US territory and tropical island just 1,500 miles or three hours south of Tokyo by aircraft, is heavily dependent on tourism — particularly from Japan — for its economy. It's well known for scuba diving, white beaches and historic World War II battle sites. Japanese accounted for 73% of the 1.1 million visitors to Guam in the 2011 fiscal year, according to Guam Visitors Bureau data. South Koreans were 13% followed by 4% from Taiwan.

Historically, Guam is one of the safest destinations anywhere.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.