May 21, 2014 | volume 101 / Number 21

Who Is Right? Who Is Wrong?

How much do we really know about Diren Dede, this young Turkish/German/Muslim exchange student whose life was tragically ended during what appeared to be a home invasion burglary attempt?

Was he truly “that perfect friend to hang out with?” Was he also a “heartthrob with a contagious smile,” as Alice Miller of the Missoulian writes? “All the girls loved him” was another quote attributed to one of Dede's classmates at Missoula Big Sky High School, where Dede was enrolled as a junior.

Diren Dede was “genuine, generous and a good friend”, several students and soccer teammates shared.

Kate Wilson of the “welcoming family” told the Missoulian of Dede, “We just really bonded with him really quickly. He was just so easy to talk to.”

Jay Bostrom, Dede's soccer coach, said of Dede, “He was also one of those people who was concerned with the little people.”

All well and good, I say. Strong accolades that point to a well-adjusted, honest, fun-loving, athletic, good-looking young man.

Then this.

“The 17-year-old was shot and killed shortly after midnight Sunday morning, in the garage of a Missoula man whose home had been burglarized twice in the past three weeks.” (Great Falls Tribune, April 30, 2014.)

My burning question is just this. What was this allegedly fine, young, upstanding youngster doing wandering the neighborhood at 12:30 a.m. on a Sunday? This would be a time when he and his peers should be home resting up for another grueling week of school and sports.

As the Good Book might say, “He was tempted and found sorely lacking.” (Allegedly to both counts, of course.)

It's been reported by the Associated Press that he allegedly “garage hopped three or four times” with an Ecuadoran exchange student who has fled the U.S. to the safety of his homeland.

Sure, there were things that the shooter and homeowner, Marcus Kaarma, shoulda, coulda, woulda done to prevent this senseless death. He probably should have simply said to the intruder in the darkened garage something cop-like – like “stick-em up” or “I have a shotgun trained on you. Lie down on the floor and spread 'em until the cops get here.”

Instead, allegedly, he just opened fire, popping off four rounds at a darkened figure in his garage. There was no way that Kaarma could have known this intruder was just a teenage foreign exchange student from Germany who was unarmed and not dangerous.

On the other hand, this could have been a case where Dede saw the purse lying on the floor of the garage, and being who everyone says he was, decided to take it to the house, ring the door bell and say, “Here's your purse. I think you must have dropped it on the floor of your garage.”

But instead, and within the confines of Montana's “Castle Law,” Kaarma saw his domicile was being invaded, but what he didn't know was how many intruders there were and what, if anything, they were willing to do to escape capture and imprisonment. For all he knew, they could have been armed with AK 47s and intent on doing him and his family grievous bodily harm.

Was it a set up? It surely was, as I see it. Allegedly, the garage door was up a little and Kaarma had “planted” a purse in plain view of the street. He'd been burglarized a couple time in the past few weeks and said he “was tired of the cops doing nothing about it.”

This will escalate into a diplomatic fiasco and has begun already with a team from the German Diplomatic Corps in-country as we speak.

Julia Reinhardt of the German Consulate General's Office in San Francisco stated, “We hope justice will be done to make it clear to everyone that an unarmed juvenile cannot lawfully be killed by a citizen in Montana simply because he has trespassed into a garage. It is for us a big concern.”

As I see it, there are so many things wrong with that statement, but I will leave it to my 9.376 readers to figure it out in their own minds.

I don't see Marcus Kaarma getting a fair trial in Missoula, Mont.

Both families are being torn apart by this tragedy that could have been avoided in two ways. By Dede not entering the garage, or by Kaarma not setting the trap.

Who is right? .... Who is wrong? They both are .... And ... They both are.

Anyway, this is going to occupy the headlines for quite awhile, so get used to it.

That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.

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