As two communities and five families mourn lives cut short for no fathomable reason, authorities must try to answer the many questions surrounding the homicides that police say were the work of Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino.
He is charged with the Monday night killings of his neighbor, 41-year-old Michael Capps, as well as brothers Austin Harter, 29, and Clint Harter, 27; and Jeremy Waters, 36. Police say Serrano-Vitorino, 40, then fled in a pickup truck and on Tuesday morning fatally shot 49-year-old Randy J. Nordman of New Florence, Mo.
Serrano-Vitorino, 40, was in the country illegally and appears to have eluded detention by immigration authorities on at least two occasions. He had already been deported once, in 2004.
His experience after returning suggests that local police and immigration officials need to do a better job of communicating. In one instance, officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent paperwork to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department while Serrano-Vitorino was in custody of the Overland Park police.
Investigators must also make every effort to find out how Serrano-Vitorino obtained a gun. As a deportee, he could not legally own a weapon.
The biggest question of all may be the hardest to answer. What prompted Serrano-Vitorino to allegedly storm into his neighbor’s home and open fire on four persons who apparently had done him no harm, and then allegedy murder a stranger who lived 170 miles away? Families and friends of the Kansas victims say they are stunned and baffled by the murders.
Inexplicable gun violence in America has made these questions commonplace but never to the families and communities who are deeply affected.
The five men killed in Kansas and Missouri were husbands and fathers, people who were loved and depended on. What we know for certain is that their deaths were senseless, tragic and utterly wrong.