It was two years ago today, at 10 a.m., I got the call from an editor to go look for a crime scene on Cold River Road in Shrewsbury, Vermont. No address, just start driving and see what I can find, my editor said. I was working for the Rutland Herald at the time.
The back mountain narrow roads were covered in ice and I drove for what seemed miles, searching for something. But I didn’t know exactly what. A flashing light? Yellow crime scene tape, perhaps?
And then I saw the lone Vermont State Trooper standing in the middle of the blocked off road. Pulling off to the side, I got out and we talked. I waited. Took a few pictures of a typical-looking Vermont home, quaint, brown stalks of now dead perennials ringed a back deck with snow blanketing the space in an oddly serene peace.
What I didn’t know then, but now on every Feb. 15, I can’t forget; Donna was still inside. Donna Marzilli, 57, shot the chest, her reading glasses crushed under her body, her pink robe now stained.
Her life partner, Frank Weir, now 56, was charged with second-degree in her killing.
Weir had an arsenal of weapons at their home and last year a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Weir with possession of a 1928 Colt sub-machine gun, .45 caliber without a permit and with a scratched off serial number. The machine gun was not involved in Donna's death.
Weir told police there was a scuffle and the gun went off accidentally, killing Donna. But a forensics report showed smears of Donna’s blood throughout the home; along walls, in the kitchen, at the phone, the desk in the living room.
And every time, I think about Donna, I think about that report.
So tonight, on the anniversary of Donna’s death, I just finished writing a story about guns and the killing of 17 at a Florida school. And I wonder why? Why did Weir have a fully automatic sub-machine gun and why did Nikolas Cruz, the alleged Florida shooter, have an AR-15?
Guns meant to kill many people quickly, why do American citizens need these weapons?
When will it be enough? How many more need to die before we do something?
Democratic Congressman Christopher Murphy said on the House floor yesterday, the inaction of lawmakers is to blame.
“As we speak, there is a horrific scene playing out at a high school in South Florida. Turn on your televisions and you’re going to see children running for their lives at what looks to be the 19th school shooting (this number is in question) in this country and we have not even hit March,” Murphy said. “This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else. As a parent it scares me to death this body doesn’t take seriously the safety of my children. And it seems like a lot of parents in South Florida are going to be asking the same question later today. “
Will the powerful gun lobby, funneling millions into candidates’ coffers, continue to influence legislation? Or will we be able to stand-up and say enough?
Today in a CNN interview, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Congress is "playing to an extremist base."
"Second Amendment, 'I should have the right to carry my gun anywhere and if I have a concealed carry permit from Texas I should be able to use it in New York. Baloney,'" Cuomo said. "If people remain adamant the way they are right after a crisis. I passed my bill literally within days of Sandy Hook because people were focused. You need the focus of the American people because the politicians are not going to take the risk unless they know they're being pushed. It's that simple."
Cuomo is talking about New York's tougher stance on guns with the passing of the SAFE Act.