Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hitting Close to Home

A friend of mine, a very well respected photographer for the Times-Picayune, made the New York Times this morning, but not in a good way. John McCusker was pulled over not far from here in a traffic stop Tuesday evening and, despondent at his own losses and the misery he's had to witness, he tried to get the cops to kill him. He begged them to, over and over, and even pinned a cop between his car and a patrol car in an attempt to provoke them.

“He never stopped saying that, and made every attempt to hurt the police officers with his automobile because that’s the only weapon he had,” [NOPD crisis negotiator James] Arey said. “Our officers are well trained to recognize crises and attempts at ‘suicide by cop,’ and that’s what this was.”

He was eventually subdued with a Taser and is in custody under a suicide watch.

This is terribly upsetting to me. John is a passionate fan of New Orleans jazz and a researcher specializing in Kid Ory. He's been a guest in my home, and I have talked with him about jazz many, many times. In all the years I've known him he has never been anything but a cheerful, well-balanced man. And yet what has happened to him is now commonplace.

This city is slowly going mad.

6 comments:

Don said...

Commonplace? That's not good. I can't imagine the atmosphere that would make this sort of thing commonplace, because of course where I live everything is perfect. If it starts getting to you, move.

The jesus and mo cartoons are hilarious but Blogger commenting doesn't work for that post. Obviously the act of a vengeful God.

Red Tulips said...

I wrote about this story on my own blog. It seems we have common friends.

http://cultureforall.blogspot.com/2006/08/everyday-tragedy-in-new-orleans.html

Very sad story.

Jean Lafitte said...

Don: Obviously. I had a terrible time just getting that story to post.

Two T-P op-eds provide followup of a sort. Jarvis Deberry has been talking to mental health professionals about the emotional storms we can expect as the first anniversary approaches. Nobody knows how bad it's going to be, but it's going to be bad.

Jed Horne, a colleague of John's, reports that in the shocked and hushed newsroom the morning after this happened, everyone was wondering the same thing: "Who else among us has been pushed to the breaking point and just doesn't know it yet?"

Don said...

"Who else among us has been pushed to the breaking point and just doesn't know it yet?"

As you may know, the Company is shrinking. So some of us occasionally have the bad taste to wonder which quiet unassuming engineer is suddenly going to show up at the door with a high-powered rifle. You know, morbid humor works best.

Jean Lafitte said...

Yeah, joke about it. Then when he shows up and is picking his targets, he'll look at you and think, "Naah, skip him. He's amusing."

I guess that's an example, isn't it.

Blogdevil9 said...

I relize I'm late commenting on this post, but technical difficulties, as you know delayed my seeing it.

The regrettable incident of your friend serves to remind me of the tragic ending of the life of one we both recently lost. You know who I mean. Although suicide was not the cause of his demise, depression in the wake of Katrina was certainly a huge factor in his rapid decline.

I have been told by other Louisiana friends of their friends who also mysteriously died since then.

I agree with Don's previous comment to the efffect that if being there makes one consider suicide one should move.