Rest in peaceLast week someone expressed his opinion of 17-year-old Rylan Fuchs, who was shot in his front yard in Danville on Jan. 20 and died, in what police say may have been a drug-related incident.
"He got what he deserved," said the man, at a public meeting.
No. Rylan Fuchs did not deserve to die.
Drugs are not rare among high school students in Danville. It doesn't help the situation to condemn Rylan although his death can certainly serve as a starting point for conversations with our children about drugs, choices and companions.
As Rylan's stepfather has pointed out, this incident was heartbreaking for two families - his and the family of the boy who shot Rylan. Let's have compassion for everyone involved in this tragedy. Rylan may have made some bad choices as to his associates or his recreational activities but we should not condemn him or throw around incendiary words like "dealer."
A boy, 15, has been arrested at a relative's home in Oakland in connection with the case; he had attended Danville high schools for a time while living in a group home. This has led some residents to denounce the idea of group homes in our community. But Danville is part of the greater Bay Area and the rest of the world. We don't help anyone - including our children - by trying to shut ourselves off or believing that teens who need a home should find our doors closed to them.
Alamo resident Brad Blake was named Citizen of the Year by the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce last week, partly because he started a program to encourage soccer players from Richmond to go to college. Blake understands the importance of reaching out to the greater world rather than trying to build a wall around our community.
Rylan Fuchs made bad choices but he also made good choices, which we have heard about from his family and friends who celebrated him at his memorial service. His father described him as "an extraordinary and brilliant young man" who was his "son, best friend, basketball buddy and fellow creative spirit." Friends talked about his philosophy that life is what you make of it. Unfortunately he did not have many years to practice his philosophy.
We have lost one of our children in a tragic event. The death of a young person must be mourned and we must seek any lessons that come from it, whether the child dies from disease, drinking and driving, or consorting with questionable companions. As we ask ourselves questions about how, why and what we can do to make sure this does not happen again, we must bear in mind: Rylan Fuchs did not deserve to die.