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YOUNG GUNS

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James Jordan answered that description. He parked his car by the side of the road, to rest his eyes and take a nap for a few moments before driving on.

Try something different. Put yourself inside the mind of the 18-year-old who fired the shot from his .38-caliber pistol into the elder Jordan's chest, killing Jordan with a single shot.

I hesitate to put words in anyone's mouth. But if you have been following the many murders committed by members of this age group, you come to understand that the thoughts are always the same. So it doesn't require a grand act of the imagination to re-create them.

These young killers are cold, quick to kill, ruthless and brutal. They never think of the consequences of their acts. These two who killed James Jordan are brothers, under the skin, of the two teens from Agua Fria High School who shot nine victims in the Buddhist temple massacre two years ago.

They will kill without passion. They strike at anyone. There is always more urgency to get their hands on quick cash than there is to plan or to weigh the consequences. The decision to strike is made, and the killing becomes justified as a means to cover their tracks.

Here in Arizona, just two years ago this month, Johnathan Doody told his companion, Alex Garcia: "No witnesses."

And then Doody pumped bullets from a rifle into the head of every person lying face down on the floor before him. Neither Doody nor Garcia showed any emotion, either then or since.

So we can safely assume it was no different with the two 18-year-olds who killed James Jordan.

This is the frightening part. None of it was personal. Like the Buddhist monks, James Jordan just happened to be in the wrong place.

With this in mind, consider that this is something quite similar to the way the killing of James Jordan went down:

"Is he dead?"
"Yeah . . . about as dead as he's ever gonna get."
"Check him out. See how much he's carrying."
"Uh-oh . . . you know who this is? The license says James Jordan. Damn, I bet it's Michael Jordan's father! Look, right here on the driver's license, it says James Jordan."
"We should have known it right away. Look at the license plates. UNC0023. That's Michael Jordan's playing number. And UNC is for the University of North Carolina, where he played in college. Everybody in the world knows that number."
"Yeah, and now we killed his father. We've got to get rid of this body and get far away from it."
"Damn, he died so easy. I just squeezed the trigger. There was no sound at all as the bullet went into his chest."
"And look at him now. He looks surprised. He never thought when he was dancing around Chicago Stadium with Michael that something like this could happen to him."
"Damn! That's really Michael Jordan's daddy!"
"We'll take him over the state line to that swamp in South Carolina. We'll dump him there. No one will find him for a long time, if ever."
"And they'll never find us, either. We'll hide this car so far from here there'll be no connection."
"This is such a fine car. In a way, it's Michael's fault for giving him such a nice car."
"Damn! We really offed Michael Jordan's father! Isn't that something? Don't that beat all?"
"Let's quit talking and get out of here. This is something they better never catch us for."
@rule:
@body:But, of course, this pair was untutored in the ways of big-city crime. They drove around in the car for four days, parking it in the trailer court, where it was duly noted.

They even used the cellular telephone inside the car, unaware that every phone number they called could later be traced by the police.

@rule:
@body:Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the story is the attitude taken by many sportswriters around the country. It showed that there is a growing resentment toward Michael Jordan. His success has taken its toll.

Instead of sympathizing with Michael, the sportswriters went after him. They cited his excessive gambling and the gambling debts he has reportedly refused to pay.

Here is Scot Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle:
"The leading theory was that James Jordan was murdered because of unpaid debts, either his or his son's. We know what happens to guys who welsh on million-dollar bets.

"In a sad way, it's almost a relief the murder was a random crime . . . but the thing was a hanging curve ball at which most of us had to take a cut."
Here is Bob Verdi in the Chicago Tribune:
"How is it possible that any person, high-profile or not, could be missing three weeks without family members taking every imaginable measure in concert with authorities to secure information?

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Tom Fitzpatrick