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Let's hear facts of rock-throwing incident first

Our View
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Make an example out of them? Sentence them to community service? This rock-throwing case is somehow different because those accused were football players? Since three teenagers were arrested a couple of weeks ago for throwing gravel, a barricade and softball-sized rocks from the Canyon Way overpass on Interstate 80 and severely injuring a motorist, countless residents have weighed in on what the punishment should be, if they are convicted. Assuming the 16- and 17-year-olds are guilty, and at least two have already apologized so that seems likely, our community is somewhat divided on what should be done with them. The Placer County District Attorney’s Office is taking the assault allegations extremely seriously, charging all three teens as adults and with multiple felonies. Bail was set at $150,000 each and one teen, Samuel Quinlan, has bailed out. The other two, Hunter Perez and Sean Steele, remain locked up in Placer County Juvenile hall. The victim, Jose Palomera of Sacramento, a pastor who works for a transport company, wants prosecutors and the judge to “send a message” by imposing a stiff sentence on the youth. If found guilty as adults on all felony charges, it’s possible these teenagers could spend many years behind bars. While hangings were once common in this area, our society has rightfully become much more civilized. This should be a teachable moment for parents, educators, teens and younger students. These young men made a horrible decision with devastating consequences. They not only hurt Palomera and another driver whose semi-truck was hit by a flying barricade, but they have hurt their families, friends and schools. Many in the media and in our community have focused on the fact that these were football players. That’s interesting, but irrelevant to the crimes. Whether they played in a band, rode skateboards or sang in a church choir, their actions are the problem, not their backgrounds. Their prowess on the football field just further illustrates that they have had some constructive leaders in their lives who attempted to keep them headed in the right direction. Here are a few ideas that might clear the air: — The Colfax High School football program and its coaches, including head coach Tony Martello, have long run a solid program of which the community can be proud. The misbehavior of a few players during an early morning binge does not diminish the positive influences the program has had on Colfax over many years. — Parents need to know where their teenagers are in the middle of the night. If you have children, establish ground rules and enforce them. This is crucial for all parents of teenagers. — Let the investigation run its course. There are still many unknown factors. Let the detectives and attorneys involved do their jobs and bring relevant facts to light so the truth can be known and there can be a better chance for justice. As bad as this tragedy is, even the now-suffering victim agrees it could have been much worse. The way this plays out in court, in schools and in public will say a lot about the type of community we are and what we want it to be.