- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
It was an unseasonably warm autumn Friday night. Jerry and Teresa Bass were walking their dog along a path that links their Hampshire neighborhood to a nearby schoolís baseball field. In the distance were the lights from Westlake High Schoolís football field. There was a home game set to begin at 7 p.m.
Shortly before then, at 6:45, a man approached the Basses and shot them multiple times. Teresa Bass was killed, her husband critically injured. Police officers at the game heard the gunshots and were there within minutes. The gunman had quickly fled the scene.
What followed was a little more than two weeks of a community living in fear with a lot of unanswered questions. There didnít appear to be a motive for the crime or any suspects, despite a hefty reward being offered for information.
Fast forward to Tuesday, when police announced that they had charged a 17-year-old from the neighborhood with first-degree and attempted murder. This came after the murder of a Washington, D.C., cab driver last Wednesday night, the same evening the Hampshire neighborhood was meeting with Charles County law enforcement to discuss the murder.
After the cabbyís murder, the Metropolitan Police Department received a tip that Joshua Mebane might have been involved in the case. After his arrest, police in the District contacted Charles County police to tell them that Mebane might have been involved in the Hampshire shooting. Following a few days of investigation, Mebane has been charged with both killings. Sheriff Rex Coffey said Tuesday that his department is confident they have solved the crime.
ďWe have our guy, and heís in custody,Ē Coffey assured the public.
But there is still one important question that remains. Why did the shooting occur in the first place? Before the arrest was made, police were urging folks to go about their daily lives and simply use common sense, the kinds of tips that police always stress: avoid dark and secluded places, donít walk alone if you donít have to and be aware of your surroundings. These are things that should be kept in mind all of the time, in any neighborhood.
Itís true that incidents like this could happen anywhere or to anyone. Thatís the reason this one hits home to so many people. It could have been anyone in the neighborhood. Itís easier sometimes to think these things happen in neighborhoods other than our own. But regardless of where an incident like this occurs, the pain and loss is just as great.
This killing has everyone shaking their heads and asking how it could have happened.
It is heartbreaking from every angle. Foremost, there is the murder of a woman who was simply taking a walk on a nice fall evening. Thereís the heartache of her family and friends. Other lives will be ruined, as well — that of the person who eventually will be convicted of this crime. The suffering ripples out to include his families and friends, as well.
More details will emerge as the case proceeds through the justice system. And only then will the community truly be able to rest easy.