They Never Meant to Kill Anyone

So I was scrolling through some old pictures on Facebook and came across one about a young man murdered three years ago this month in Greece. I wrote the article below back then, and slightly updated it … it seems timely, even if it’s not what I usually write about. But I still remember my outrage … still feel it for him and all the others so senselessly killed.

I am sitting at my computer, watching the news, and again, I’m struck with horror at the killing of an American student named Bakari Henderson in Greece by an angry mob a few days ago.

It appears that the student and his friends, who were on vacation, were sitting in a bar, talking, laughing, and drinking. “The fight may have started after Henderson and his friends wanted to take a photo with a waitress, which angered a bouncer, according to CBS News.” Several others came over and got in the student’s face. He ran outside, and eight or nine others followed him. The video is horrible to see.

(For more on this story, click here.)

He died at the scene. Beaten to death.

Six Serbian tourists and two workers at the bar have been arrested. An attorney for one or more of them said on tonight’s ABC News, “They never intended to kill anyone.”

THAT’s a defense?

My question to those now accused of murder and others who use the “I didn’t mean to” defense is simple: If you didn’t mean to do what you did — WHAT DID YOU MEAN TO DO?

What were your intentions? What was your plan? What did you think would happen when you ran into the street with all those others, all of whom — including you — kicking this young man in the head, this young man lying on the ground defenseless.

And his crime seems to have been trying to take a selfie picture, or possibly it had something to do with drinks put on the wrong table. How do either of those actions translate into a mob murder?

And their defense is that they didn’t mean to kill him?

What the hell did they mean to do, then?

That’s no defense.

Those are a coward’s words after the fact, as though they’ll prove innocence.

Those are words from those who know damn well they DID do harm of some kind.

Those are the words of a weasel, someone who takes no responsibility for his or her actions.

Those are the words of those who have little if any moral sense.

No moral compass.

No regard for others.

So on top of losing their beloved son, who from all accounts was a terrific young man, his family has to wonder what kind of animals killed him.

How do we stop this senseless violence? How do we change the way we deal with others, even those we don’t like? How do we help our children grow up to be responsible adults who, when they goof, admit it, and learn from it?

How do we teach them that all actions have consequences?

Talk to me, friends. Talk to me.

I’m very sad tonight.

Originally published in July 2017 on Grammar Goddess Communication. For a 2020 update, click here.


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With nearly 30 years’ experience as an international workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication, creating and leading workshops in three main areas – American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills – to help business pros enhance their communication skills. She also leads one-hour LinkedIn workshops (Master the LinkedIn Profile Basics) via Zoom to help business pros anywhere maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations free of charge. As an editor, Susan has worked on business blogs, award-winning children’s books, best-selling business books, website content, and even corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented.

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  1. His death is indefensible, but somehow (How? What???) the court saw it another way. That is tragedy upon tragedy. The recent murder of Tessa Majors in Central Park came to mind.

    “In an audio recording detailed in a criminal complaint, Mr. Weaver (now the accused) said in a conversation that he struck Ms. Majors with a knife because ‘she was hanging on to her phone.’” It has since come to light that his family shielded him from authorities until a wound on his hand — inflicted by Ms Majors — healed. What led those three boys to that point in their lives to value a phone more than a person? What message did his parents or guardians send by sheltering him.

    It has also come to light that someone took a video of the struggle that ended in her death. Someone witnessed it but didn’t come to her aid? What would I have done in that situation?

    Unanswerable questions…. Find someone to hug today.

    Thank you for your important share.

    • It is just such a tragedy, Jeff, that folks act that way, and words can’t begin to show how we feel when it happens. I hadn’t known about that accused killer’s family … talk about misguided! Sigh. So much good in the world, but so much unintended evil.

  2. Hi Susan,
    I also want to understand, when I read or hear such news, from where it comes from inside the human-being to do so much cruelty. I don’t understand. But I have learned that speaking up is important. All your How-questions are so much in place. The world seeks change, all there with you. The ugly truth from my perception, not all of them are seeking that change, when talking of that kind of human-being. I have learned that everything starts with me. You did something very great Susan, you didn’t look the other way, you did speak up and wrote this great share. This action is full of courage, please don’t underestimate your act. Every voice counts every act counts. Thank you for this, keeping such topics alive, the world seeks change.

    • Wow, and thanks for all your kindness in your reply, Ineke! It was something I wrote in 2017, but seeing the picture in my Facebook pictures section reminded me of it … and given what the past few months have been like in terms of senseless deaths … I just had to repost it.

      It still makes me crazy to realize how little it takes for some hothead who hasn’t learned about life from a positive perspective to decide to hurt/wound/kill another. It’s not what I would ever want to focus on, but … I can’t stay silent, either.

    • Please don’t thank me Susan for sharing kindness with you!
      I really understand how deep the impact was on you, to re-post it.
      Also the confusion and trying to understand that there are people without limits in our world.
      But that is the ugly truth of our world.

      Please don’t stay silent Susan, if your inner voice is guiding you towards to speak up, than please do so. Write, re-write, what ever feels good, just let them have it!! The world also needs your voice. I am so glad with your courage’s action.
      Thank you for being part of The Change Susan!

  3. Terrible and tragic crime. There is no defence for a weasel. I use this term too and it is well applied to the ones who hold no value for life. The vicious actions they partake in?…inexcusable.
    The lack of accountability isn’t even being addressed when there is not proper justice. Human rights? They obviously do not know. The justice system? Retribution? Justification? Rehabilitation? All this comes to my mind. When I think that you take the life of another with no regards for the value of life…then you just gave up your own birthright to have any here as well.
    Just my thoughts after reading this Susan. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. Change is needed. Hope you are feeling better today. P🙏❤️