It will be up to the courts to decide if Joseph John Medved is guilty of the charge of terroristic threats and acts, and if so what punishment is appropriate for the crime. His arrest last week for allegedly threatening to “shoot up a school” is of itself not proof of guilt.
That said, a lot of people did the right thing in putting in motion the chain of events that caused Medved to be arrested.
Law enforcement officials said the suspect made the threat at a clinic in north Fulton County, where an employee took the initiative to report it to authorities. How many people, hearing the same, would have blown it off as inconsequential, or left the problem for someone else to deal with?
Officials say that after making the threat, Medved attempted to buy a gun at a local pawn shop. But again someone did what they were supposed to do, enforcing a 24-hour background check and preventing him from being immediately successful in making the purchase.
Once Medved acquired a gun, he was reported to authorities for shooting it close to a road. Again, how easy would it have been to ignore what was going on?
Alerted by the initial threat, law enforcement officers had Medved under surveillance and ultimately took him into custody. They say they also found what appeared to be a homemade bomb when searching Medved’s home.
People became involved. Someone heard a threat and reported it. Those on the receiving end of the report took it seriously enough to act. Those may sound like simple, common sense measures, but the truth is they can mean the difference between life and death, between tragedy and a non-event.
At a time when the next act of random violence could be as close as the group of people congregated down the street for whatever reason at all, a heightened alertness by everyone is the best protection we have.
Looking back on the shooting sprees, bombings and terrorist attacks of recent years, we have to wonder how many times tragedy might have been averted if someone had taken an overheard threat seriously, had made a phone call, had gotten involved.
We don’t know if Medved is guilty of the crime of which he is accused, or whether he ever would have made good on the threat he supposedly made. But we do know this — people got involved and did the right thing, and nothing bad happened, for which we can all be grateful.