Published Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:40 pm
girl's death is a tragedy
World-Herald editorial: Shooters, do the right thing

You know who you are.

Do the right thing.

If you were one of the three men who were at 44th Avenue and Emmet Street on Wednesday morning, come forward. Now.

If you fired the shot that killed an innocent little girl, do the right thing. Give yourself up. Now.

If you know who fired the shot that killed 5-year-old Payton Benson, do the right thing. Tell the Omaha Police Department. Now.

What you did, what you saw, what you know — it is unspeakable.

An innocent little girl, eating breakfast in her home, struck by gunfire from a block away.

The outrage across Omaha is justified. Whatever caused you to shoot is not.

No matter your twisted reason for opening fire on a city street, your innocent victim had nothing to do with it.

Did your intended target hang out with the wrong gang? Five-year-old girls hang out with dolls and teddy bears.

Did your target wear the wrong colors? Five-year-old girls wear all colors, with a fondness for pink.

Did your target cheat you in a deal over drugs? Five-year-olds won't even take a vitamin unless it's shaped like a Gummy Bear.

Did your target somehow insult your “honor”? Five-year-olds might argue over bedtime, but Payton Benson's argument wasn't with you.

In a city that has seen 40 homicides in each of the past three years, the killing of Payton Benson has stunned us all.

For every parent who remembers eating breakfast with their 5-year-olds, and for those still doing it today, the reaction is horror and heartbreak.

For every parent, grandparent, big brother, big sister, neighbor and stranger, the reaction must be to condemn this gang violence and say, “Enough is enough.”

Reducing gun and gang violence has been on the city's agenda for a while now. This tragedy adds urgency.

Willie Barney, head of the Empowerment Network, voices it well. “It's totally unacceptable,” he said. “We cannot sit back. We need to send this message very loud and very strong.”

If you were at 44th and Emmet on Wednesday morning, you can take one honorable step by doing the right thing.

If you don't, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer says his cops will catch you. You should know that they are good at their jobs.

Mayor Jean Stothert is pledging all resources necessary to catch you. Her kids were 5 years old once. She means what she says.

You know who you are.

Whatever perverse reason led you to pull that trigger, to leave this little girl dead, it's time to do one honorable thing.

Admit what you did. Turn yourself in. Face the consequences.

Do the right thing.

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