Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sad and senseless

Right now there are more questions than answers in the sad and senseless tragedy Tuesday night at the Love's Travel Shop west of Amarillo. This is one of the most disturbing incidents that I can recall locally in many years.

This much I know: Sharrel Blankenbaker, 63, of Felt, Okla., died a senseless but very heroic death in protecting her grandchildren from Gary Don Carner. She had apparently picked up her granddaughters at the Amarillo airport and was on the way back to Oklahoma.

They stopped at Love's, presumably to get something for the road. That's when Carner tried to take her 12-year-old granddaughter from California. Mrs. Blankenbaker stepped in front of her grandchildren to protect them when she was shot and died on the way to the hospital.

Sharrel Blankenbaker, uncommon last name, uncommon courage.

I also know Potter County Sheriff's Office should be commended for their pursuit of Carner, who was later shot and killed by a deputy. Deputies acted quickly and decisively.

What is hardest to comprehend is Carner, 58. I saw his picture on Facebook, where he had 110 friends. He looked like a typical cowboy in his black felt hat. He had a family. But his actions of Tuesday night were of someone on a hell-bent rampage.

According to authorities, he first tried to abduct a woman at 8:55 p.m. at a convenience store at 34th and Soncy. She was airing a tire when Carner approached her, first to ask if she needed a tire gauge, and then pulled a gun on her. She got away, ran into the store and the clerk locked the door. The police were called.

Before Carner could be located, and just 10 minutes later, he was at the Love's where the tragedy unfolded. Carner escaped, and less than 20 minutes later, abducted another girl, this one 11 years old. After deputies spotted Carner, the girl escaped before gunfire was exchanged.

My God, how many lives and familes did Carner wreck in a night of madness? We live in a very fallen world.


Dustbowlkid said...

I read your article with much interest today.

I personally knew Sharrel. I am very good friends with her youngest son, and this tragedy has shaken me to the core. There is only one conclusion to this tragedy. Jo Dee Messina came out with a song named "Heaven Was Needing A Hero" some years back. The Good Lord truly got a hero with Sharrel Blankenbaker.

I feel like I need to set something straight with your article, just because I feel the need to do so. Sharrel had taken her youngest grandson, from her youngest son who was actually home visiting from another state, with her to pick up her granddaughter and grandson, from her oldest son from the west coast, off the plane. She was always really excited and anxious to see her grandchildren. Sharrel was a good Christian woman who will be miseed by her family and friends alike. None of us who know Sharrel Blankenbaker is ready to see her put to rest.

weather bird said...

We've been living in a fallen world for thousands of years. You just notice it more as you get older.

SparkleGrammy said...

A loving God would not selfishly "take" people, just because he supposedly needs them, leaving their families to grieve and suffer so tremendously. That kind of thinking is illogical at best.

The fact is, there is evil in this world. And even if Mr. Carner was not evil before that night(as his family claims), he was evil as he committed these crimes against innocents. And for that, he paid with his life. That's called justice. But it doesn't bring loved ones back, or mend their hearts and minds after watching their grandmother dying on the pavement for trying to protect them from harm. It will be years, if ever, that they come to terms with the evil they experienced that night. My heart goes out to the Blankenbaker family. Being a grandmother of children the same ages, I can empathize greatly. May the heroine, Mrs. Blankenbaker, Rest in Peace.