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Senseless crimes cause us to ponder - Bob PaslayOur sports editor Doug Gorman, who lives in Henry County, is in shock. As are a lot of people.

Gorman recently spent a pleasant 10 minutes talking to Michael Patrick Rudy, a 25-year-old personable convenience store clerk, about baseball and sports.

From all accounts you couldn't go into the Kangaroo convenience store in Stockbridge without getting to know Rudy and couldn't get to know him without liking him.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Rudy was gunned down at the convenient store by a man who walked into the store with his female friend to rob it. From all accounts of the tragedy, Rudy was executed by someone who thought no more of a human life than he would think of swatting a fly.

The videotape at the store shows that the woman walked up as if to make a purchase and the man walked up, pulled the gun and pulled the trigger. He then robbed the store of cash and fled.

A customer walked into the store and found his lifeless body, lying where it fell after the killing.

His stepfather, who drove him to work and back each day, called him a "good kid."

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who ever encountered him to disagree with this assessment.

How totally and completely senseless this horrible crime is. How unfair that a young man who was doing nothing more than trying to earn a living and contribute to society has his life cut short by someone after a little money.

So many emotions flood into you at once. Have we degenerated to the stage that this can happen? Or have there always been criminals like this who respect nothing and no one?

The list of horrible crimes over the history of this nation make me think this is the case, that tragically it just hit closer to home and made us ponder it more.

I am often out late at night driving around and I see the lit-up convenience stores with a lone clerk working in them. It is a job I would not want to do, but one I appreciate someone doing.

You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how something this horrible could happen. If you asked everyone who had encountered this young man they would gladly raise in a matter of minutes more money to save his life than the killer got in taking his life.

You have to pause and consider how fragile life is, how precious each moment is, how lucky that we who are left behind to ponder this tragedy are that we have not been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have said before that I am opposed to the death penalty, but I must say that this crime shakes me all the way down to my soul. I guess I rationalize that if the death penalty would spare the family of another 25-year-old clerk that horrible phone call in the middle of the night then I might change my mind. I am disturbed that nothing would have stopped him from killing, that he was programmed by his lack of anything good inside him.

There are so many good and decent people in the world, who spend so much time doing such good and spectacular things that I can't let myself believe that this is anything except a killer who has no soul, no conscience, no saving grace. I don't think it says anything about society or about Americans or anything else.

Hopefully a composite drawing and the help of people who might have seen something afterward will help catch this killer. Normalcy will return to our area, but for people like Doug and the others who encountered Rudy they will probably never be quite the same. Those of us who know good people whose lives are cut short are never completely the same.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478 5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com.