Give or take, this is what I wrote on Facebook on Sunday night. I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about this.
I’ve know Reverend Schooler for at least 25 years.
He was gunned down by his mentally ill brother in his church on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016.
I can’t think of a sadder story.
Schooler was one of the more pragmatic and practical of the Black Ministers- and one who cared more about the people in this community- and especially kids- than most of the others.
I don’t know how many high school sporting events I ended up sitting next to him- and he’d put his arm around my shoulder and say, “Now, listen to me David…” as if I had any other choice.
I didn’t always agree with him, and I don’t think that the school board made the right decision picking him over 8 others- including my ex- who would have been awesome on the board- but, I know that his heart was always in the right place.
I can’t fathom what drove his brother to do this.
The hell he’ll have to live through when he realizes what he’s done…
and how this is going to affect his family- forever.
I don’t believe in heaven- or hell, but I know Bill did. And I know he’s happy to meet his maker- and to be free of the earthly constraints of his spirit.
Our community has lost a big heart- and a good man.
And it’s going to take me a long time to stop feeling a sense of loss, due to this needless shooting.
The first reports in the Dayton Daily news had Bill’s name, but, for some reason, it took them until evening to realize he was a former school board member, a teacher, a principal, a decorated Vietnam Veteran. The institutional knowledge base of the local “if it bleeds, it leads” news departments is deplorably thin. But, this was the kind of story that makes the front page. They love a good tragedy.
How many things had Bill done over the years in this community that didn’t make the front page that made a bigger impact? We’ll be reading about this for a while.
Schooler, and when you said “Schooler” everyone knew who you were talking about, was a master people person. He’d share connections, insights, and counsel with almost anyone who sought his help. I first met him in 1993 when I was running for mayor. He was helping Mark Donelson, who was the husband of Sherie McLin then, who was running for commission along with Reverend William Augman. Dean Lovelace was in that race, and pulled out to move into a special election to fill the seat that Mark Henry vacated mid-term. The incumbents were Tony Capizzi and Dick Zimmer.
The West Side was foreign to me then. Between Donelson and Schooler, I got my first hints of how it worked, didn’t work, the ministers, the projects. I remember riding to events with Donelson where he would detour and take me through parts of town that I didn’t feel that safe in. Mark, who was known as “Hollywood” and Schooler knew everyone. I saw Yuma Place, Arlington Courts, Hilltop, The Bass – with the windows open, and rolling slow. That we had a housing project with the nickname “Gangster Courts” almost seemed sickly romantic- as if there was some kind of glamour to it. I was young, dumb, naive, innocent and blind to how rough some parts of town were. They opened my eyes. All these years later, some of these places are gone, and have parks on them. I go there and hang green basketball nets. I don’t fear my city anymore, some of that comes directly from Schooler.
I never met Bill’s brother Daniel. I did meet Mark Donelson’s brother, Ron Ragland (It’s been a long time, I hope I’ve got his name correct) many times. He was murdered in a domestic dispute years ago, still a young man.
There is a common denominator here, black men dying by gun violence. Or as my friend, artist James Pate calls his series on the subject, “Kin Killing Kin”– there is no mistake about the abbreviation KKK for this story- it’s no longer the Klan killing off our black community, it’s the community killing itself.
All this twisted path to come down to this:
Court records show Daniel Schooler has a troubled and violent past. In 2001, he was charged with felonious assault with a firearm specification and carrying a concealed weapon, according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records.
Source: Pastor-slaying suspect described as ill, violent
There were other assaults, there were other instances where Daniel Schooler beat people, did time in prison, and the judge even questioned his mental state then:
“Court documents note Schooler “may be mentally ill and in need of treatment.” He was sentenced to five years of probation.
I’ve made my stands on the 2nd Amendment pretty clear over the years. I believe in the whole amendment, not partial interpretations.
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
To me, this means, as part of an organization, that meets regularly, and has been fully trained in the proper and safe use of arms, may keep them- in an armory, that is guarded and manned, 24-7 by members of said militia. Being a “strict constructionist,” (thank you Judge Scalia for that esteemed BS) I also believe that the ownership of arms is limited to the type of firepower that was available at the time of the writing- which means slow to load, single shot, limited accuracy. The right of the people to keep and bear arms- does not include TOW missiles, Claymore mines or nuclear arms- which means, that the right to own a semi-automatic pistol isn’t legitimized anymore by this insane idea that owning weapons makes us some kind of special.
The only thing special about arms ownership in America, is that you are much more likely to die by a gun than in any other civilized, industrialized country in the world. Need proof? Look no further than Bill Schooler, a man of the cloth, a teacher, a decorated veteran.
There will be a trial, unless Dan Schooler either kills himself in jail, or someone else does it for him. We’ll find out thatmentally unstable. He may get sent off to a forensic psych ward, or to prison for the rest of his miserable life. None of this will bring back his brother. We’ll be throwing a lot of good money after bad, trying to make an example out of Daniel, trying to get our ounce of flesh, to do the eye-for-an-eye thing- where everyone will end up blind.
None of that matters.
The only thing that matters is how did he get the gun? Where did he get the gun? Who’s gun was it? And, that’s the person who should be standing trial.
But, sadly, that too is just smoke and mirrors. We’ve done this to ourselves. One gun, one bullet, one fucked up interpretation of twenty seven words, written long ago, by people who we’ve somehow deified, who had no clue of the carnage that would become our county in the name of “security of a free State” in which there is no true protection from these acts of senseless violence that have taken a good man away from us for no good reason.
Schooler, if you can hear me, I will not forget you.