On December 10, 2017 the life of Sammy Brower and his family was forever changed when his son 23 year old Lashun Brower was shot and killed in Aberdeen.
Today January 10, 2018 one month after the fatal shooting death we sat down with Mr. Brower, his friend Larissa Smith, District Attorney Maureen Krueger, Aberdeen Police Chief Tim Wenzel, and Aberdeen Deputy Police Chief for Investigations Carl Colasassco to talk about the senseless death and what can be done in the community to curtail violence like this.
Before coming to the police department for the meeting today Sammy and Larissa had stopped by the cemetery to take by new flowers and to talk to Lashun on the one month anniversary of his death.
As we began talking this afternoon he opened up about the son he lost and how Lashun’s nieces and nephews still talk to him in heaven every day.
Sammy will tell you that he was no stranger to the streets himself in his younger days, however a 10 year stretch in the federal prison system along with being a father worked to change the man that he was into the man that he is today.
In his own words he talked about being sent to state prison and serving 35 months, however when he came back out onto the streets “without learning a thing” he continued in his old ways. Ultimately in 2000 Sammy was convicted and sentenced to federal prison for drug related charges where he served time in places including the infamous Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas where on his second day in the prison a man was knifed in front of him just after walking from his cell in the morning.
When released in 2010 after serving 120 months of a 121 month sentence he says he came out of prison determined to have a different life and never return to jail.
So violence, gangs, and the streets are something Brower has a real understanding of from both views – those people on the streets selling drugs and doing other things and those people that just want to live life and raise their families in peace. Here is a man that not only sees but truly understands the many issues faced by people on both sides.
When asked about the people involved in much of the criminal activity across our community today Brower makes the distinct point that over the last decade things have been taken to a whole new level. With the number of guns on the streets, in a situation where two people would have had a fist fight 8 or 10 years ago the same incident today would result in a shooting.
District Attorney Krueger and Brower talked about the problem faced by the courts with the increased number of 16 and 17 year old kids coming into court with possession of a firearm charges and what might be done to help divert these young people from the road they may be on to a normal productive life outside of the criminal element.
Another topic addressed by Brower was the local gang problem in our area fueled by a “see it today want it tomorrow” mentality held by some people with the temptation of fast easy money from drug sales and other activities. He and Smith stated that many elderly people in some places are even scared to come out onto their own front porch in the evening because they do not feel safe. Although we do not have a large gang problem here, the people that do affiliate with these groups can be responsible for a significant portion of criminal activities in any given area.
When Chief Wenzel asked Brower at what age should we be trying to reach these kids to stop them from making the wrong decisions such as selling drugs or joining gangs, both Brower and Smith simultaneously said as young as possible. To make real change in the future attitudes means reaching out to the youth of today before they even begin down a path of destructive negative behavior.
Chief Wenzel, Deputy Chief Colasassco and Brower also had a long discussion about how to build trust back between the community and law enforcement where people will call and share information about crimes. Wenzel stated one of the most frustrating parts of the job is to go to something like a shooting and no one cooperates with law enforcement to help catch the person that committed the crime.
Sammy Brower is not sitting around waiting for anyone else to get the ball rolling. Since being released from prison he has spoken to school groups and others about his experience and how to choose a more positive road in life. In addition he is also now working to foster better relationships between community members and law enforcement officers. With the death of his son efforts by Brower and others from the area to bring attention to violence in our community will now grow even more according to the 49 year old.
He said that when raising his own children (2 boys and 3 girls) that he always told them to use him as a stepping stone, learn from his mistakes and work hard to have the things that you want in life.
His message to the many young people in our community today – Stop being a follower. Be true to yourself and your own future without letting anyone else try to bring you down.
Editors Note: Two men have been charged for the shooting death of Lashun Brower and are in jail awaiting trial.