Can there be a worse way to go … not to mention a worse place?! Some guy, who isn’t being identified by the police, seems to have killed himself in a restroom at Los Angeles International Airport – Terminal 3, specifically. The unpleasantness happened just before 8 AM yesterday, and shortly after noon, the city’s police said it looked like a suicide.
The victim (and alleged perpetrator, it looks like) was found slumped in a stall with a bag covering his head and his hands bound, according to the LA Times.
The local law enforcement folks said they couldn’t remember a homicide ever taking place inside the LAX terminal, so it looks like the streak, at least, is still alive.
Fortunately, total crime is still down at LAX. For the first half of the year, it fell 6 percent year-over-year, to 1,146 incidents (from 1,222). Arrests fell from 674 for the first half of 2009 to 664 for the first half of 2010, a negligible change. But, there was an aggravated assault that became an arrest in the first six months of this year … and none for the same period in 2009. Meanwhile, 29 million travelers passed through LAX in the first two quarters of 2010, with an average of 236,000 doing so daily.
[photo by brewbooks via Flickr]
The LA Times recently linked to a tool on the US State Department website that allows you to search by date range and country to find out where around the world Americans have died of “non-natural” causes.
The information goes back to 2002. No names or details of the deaths are disclosed, they are only reported as suicide, drowning, drug-related, homicide, disaster, or vehicle, air or maritime accident, and listed according to date. The disclaimer on the site states that the stats may not be entirely accurate however, as they only represent those deaths disclosed to the State Department.
So can this tool tell you where you should or shouldn’t go based on your likelihood of drowning, getting into an accident, or being killed as a tourist there? Not really. Circumstances of the deaths are, of course, not disclosed and there is no distinction between expats or people who have lived in the country for many years and those who are tourists visiting on vacation.
Even countries with high numbers of deaths shouldn’t automatically be crossed off your list. Mexico, for example, lists 126 American deaths in 2009. 36 of those were homicides. Sounds like a big number, but not as big compared to the 2.6 million Americans who fly to Mexico every year. As the LA Times points out, “the odds overwhelmingly suggest that your vacation will be nonfatal.”
I first saw this story in the International Herald Tribune. It made the list of Top 10 Most Popular stories. Europeans–myself included–have a morbid fascination with America’s gun culture.
I clicked on the article and read: “An outburst of gunfire rattled Chicago during the weekend, with at least nine people killed in 36 separate acts of violence…They included gang shootings, drive-by attacks, and even one case in which someone used an AK-47 to shoot up a plumbing supply store”. Wow. It reads like fiction.
During the same weekend last year, there were “only” 19 shootings, including four homicides, and 21 shootings were reported during the same weekend in 2006. Overall though, we are told we are much safer than we were a 100 years ago. Good to know.
Why the fascination with guns? Lately, I have had a few European friends request I take them on a tour of the “bad neighborhoods” of US cities. They have already seen the safe neighborhoods and felt like they were missing a piece of Americana. They wanted to see the movie-romanticized gun culture first hand.
I wonder if I should get my “urban ghettour” trademarked.