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Editorial: Lesson of South Green Street heroes should ring across Longview

April 18, 2017 at 11:19 p.m.
Updated April 19, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.


What is a hero? It is a term probably used too often, one that should be reserved to describe actions we see too rarely.

But we believe it absolutely fits the group of neighbors who recently noticed something amiss on their South Longview street — and stepped up to do something about it.

The story of how several residents of South Green Street — along with their mail carrier and a city employee — swung into action to help police nab a man they say assaulted a couple, broke into their home and stole property, offers an important lesson for all of us in what it takes to make our city a safer place to live.

And all seven of those who jumped in to make sure the suspect did not get away are nothing less than heroes.

If you missed the story, here it is in a nutshell:

One morning earlier this month, some South Green Street neighbors looked out their kitchen window to see someone trying to break into cars then leaving with items that apparently were stolen. After calling police they went after the man. They caught and tackled him but he was able to get away.

Another neighbor, on the way home in her car from the grocery store, saw what was happening and followed the man as he ran. She and her sister trailed him to his hiding place, then called police. The city employee and mail carrier also got involved, making sure the suspect did not get away before police arrived.

Officers soon were there to finish what the neighbors started, taking Malique Makail Henderson, a 20-year-old Longview resident, into custody and to jail. He was held on $1.5 million bond on multiple charges. The couple he assaulted with a rock was hospitalized but are expected to recover.

There is little question that without the vigilance and bravery of the neighbors and others who got involved, Henderson would not have been caught. Too often, such low-rent criminals commit their craven acts and no one sees a thing — or, if they do, will not step forward because of fear of reprisals.

But this case shows there is strength in neighbors pulling together for the good of their community.

Of course, not all neighbors can or should give chase to a suspect. But all absolutely should be able to notice a person who looks out of place, one who is acting suspiciously, and call police. That is being an active participant in making our city a safer place. And such participation is badly needed across Longview. Without it, police often struggle to solve crimes and catch the bad guys.

"It makes our job much easier and it also shows ownership from the community," Longview police spokesman Sgt. Shane McCarter said of residents who come forward with information. "They're willing to make their area a better place to live."

And there's a flip side, he said: "Whenever they become passive, they allow people to get away."

Perhaps too many of us have become passive, have allowed too many bad people to get away, and that has led to the increasing rates of violent and other crimes we have suffered in recent years.

We hope the lesson of the South Green Street heroes — Gary Jones, his son Elijah Beall, Dakevian Patterson, Crystal Crossland and her sister, the neighborhood's mail carrier and the unidentified city employee — rings throughout our city. We hope neighbors on streets from north to south and from east to west take it to heart, increase their vigilance — and will be willing to step forward to help police nab the bad guys.

Longview needs more heroes.

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