What would we have done if he was not a ‘nice kid?’

A case pending in East Liverpool Municipal Court has attracted considerable attention from the public, not because people believe the defendant is guilty, but because they believe him innocent.

That will be a decision up to the judge, but the reasons being aired on social media by the followers of Dillon Lockhart about why he is innocent need to be addressed.

Lockhart was charged by East Liverpool police with criminal trespassing and mishandling a firearm in a vehicle, both fourth-degree misdemeanors, after they allegedly found him inside a building owned by the city’s Community Improvement Corporation carrying a 14-inch knife and with a loaded .45-caliber handgun in his vehicle. Police said they found other potential weapons inside the car that reportedly mimic those used in the popular television show Walking Dead.

First, most of those commenting have been calling Lockhart, a “kid,” as in “he’s a good kid,” or “that kid wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

At 22 years old, Lockhart cannot technically or legally be considered a “kid.”

Also of interest is his supporters’ contentions that Lockhart intended no harm, would never hurt anyone or would use the gun or modified baseball bats as weapons against anyone.

A quick Google search of the names of renowned serial killers will show many of them were thought of highly by their peers and those who knew them were amazed to learn of their actions.

As city Detective Kevin Thompson so aptly noted in this case, “He’s probably a good kid, but what if we do nothing and he goes up the hill and shoots up the school?”

Police officers in today’s society cannot afford to take a chance that someone is “a good kid” just because someone says so.

“Better safe than sorry” has long been a good motto but never more than today.

Lockhart’s supporters have also chastised the police for the trespassing charge against him when the property reportedly was not posted with “no trespassing” signs, saying how was he to know he wasn’t supposed to be in an “abandoned” building. They also point to others who have used the property as background for photos, since he was supposedly scoping out the land for use as a calendar prop.

First, the property is not abandoned. It is a parcel of ground that has been posted for quite some time with a sign stating it is open for development, which should indicate to most people that someone owns it. The sign includes a phone number, which, if Lockhart had called, possibly could have led to permission to tour the property.

We wonder how many of his supporters are property owners and, of those who are, how many would allow a complete stranger to walk into one of their buildings without permission. Or would these same people, seeing a man of considerable size standing inside one of their buildings, holding a 14-inch knife, have called the police?

As for those who have used the property for photos in the past, that is true, and those people, too, were most likely trespassing, with one major difference: None were caught by police officers inside the building holding a knife.

These supporters seem to forget other aspects of this alleged crime, including what would have happened had a police officer reacted to Lockhart by pulling his own weapon and possibly using it against this “nice kid?” What if a passing school child had been enticed to look into his admittedly unusual vehicle, seen the loaded weapon and pulled it out of the car? What if an opportunistic criminal walking by saw any of those potential weapons and helped himself? Or, what if Lockhart had fallen inside that building and been injured? Would these same supporters — if any of them are city taxpayers — be willing to pay for that lawsuit with their tax dollars?

There are many aspects of this case, but the police department did the job expected of it.

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