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Crime in the City

Looks like there'll be an uptick in the Cleveland body count.

Last July 4, Terrance Hough decided that he'd had enough of his next-door neighbors setting off fireworks.  So, after grabbing the .40 caliber semiautomatic he kept on a kitchen shelf, he marched next door to confront 24-year-old Jacob Feichtner.  Feichtner looked at Hough, incredulous.  "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

Wrong question.  Hough did, and then, as Feichtner lay on the ground, Hough stood over him and fired two more shots into him.  Two of Feichtner's friends, Katherine Rosby and Bruce Anderson, were sitting with their backs to this, having mistaken the gunshots for fireworks.  Hough shot each of them twice in the back.  Hough then started to return to his house, but heard another woman screaming.  He turned, took a draw on her, holding the gun with both hands, and fired two shots.  One struck her fiance in the elbow as he pushed her out of the way, and another stuck her in the finger.

Those were the final shots in Hough's gun.  He walked back into his house, leaving his last two victims wounded and Feichtner, Rosby, and Anderson dead.  He had used hollow-point bullets.  An ordinary one might have penetrated cleanly, but a hollow-point spreads on impact, trashing the internal organs of the victim as it moves through the body.

Oddly enough, Hough wasn't some crazed street punk.  He was 36 years old, with no criminal record; in fact, he was a Cleveland firefighter.  That last factor led to one of the more bizarre excuses advanced in recent years for criminal behavior:  Hough's conduct, some claimed, was due at least in part to his resentment at Cleveland's residency restrictions, which require municipal employees to live within the city's boundaries.

Now, there are certainly arguments to be advanced, both pro and con, on the issue of residency restrictions.  The Ohio legislature, never at a loss for things to do, chose to get into the act with the passage a couple years back of RC 9.481, prohibiting municipalities from imposing such requirements.  I'd venture my opinion on the subject, but I've got a dog in this fight:  I live in Westpark, one of the nicer areas of Cleveland -- and yes, I realize that's akin to saying, "one of Adam Sandler's more thought-provoking movies" -- which is also heavily populated by Cleveland policemen and firefighters seeking to satisfy those residency requirements.  Abolition of the requirements might lead to "blue flight," resulting in a reduction in the value of my property to a figure more in line with what the average house in Cleveland fetches any more, which is something on the order of a top-of-the-scale toaster-oven.

So I won't get into that.  I'll just note the irony that on the same day the jury decided to spare Terrance Hough from the death penalty and instead sentenced him to life imprisonment without parole, the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals decided that RC 9.481 was an unconstitutional infringement on home rule.

By the way, if you're keeping score on this, of the appellate courts that have ruled on the issue, the 2nd District has upheld the statute, while the 3rd District, 6th District, 9th District, and now the 8th have struck it down.

If you're in the latter districts, you might want to hold off on the fireworks.

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