Seemingly Harmless Post on Facebook Leaves A Small Town In Grief And Mourning.
On social media platforms, we make posts, add comments, upload pictures and
edit our profiles on a daily basis. Updating statuses on social media have become an important routine in the lives of most people.
Most times, we believe our posts and comments are clear enough for our friends to grab. However, there’s no guarantee that others would get our messages and not feel insulted or annoyed by a seemingly innocent post. While you may be certain of your good intention, you really can't predict other people's reaction. Residents of a remote town are still recollecting the effect of a seemingly harmless post.
25-year-old Chelsie Cline was an easy-going lady among her clique of friends. Chelsie was a resident of Melcroft, Pennsylvania, and a single mother. She was a hardcore optimist and everything about her revealed her positive attitude towards life.
Chelsie was in a romantic relationship with Tim Smith which went on for several months. Like every new relationship, they started out on a good note - time was affectionate and caring. While giving your partner enough attention is fine for your relationship, too much of it could soon lead to contempt and boredom. So it was for Chelsie and Tim.
Smothered by the constant attention from Tim, Chelsie couldn’t cope anymore and they broke up. Shortly after that, she started dating 27-year-old Billy Porterfield, who was a local man. She could never have imagined that her new relationship was heading to some horrific tragedy.
Although Tim was remarkably kindhearted, Chelsie’s friends and family didn't feel very comfortable while they were still dating - they believed his other side was terrific. Aside being a heavy drinker, he also had a thing for guns.
Melcroft was a very small town, so everyone seem to know about everything happening around - you could hardly keep secrets. So it was no surprise when Tim found out Chelsie was seeing Billy. Tim grew jealous and couldn't hide his feeling.
In the few months that followed, Tim began to stalk Chelsie. He often left gift items on her packed car while she was in her office. On one occasion, he dropped scratch-off lottery tickets and beer; once, he left a bouquet of flowers. He obviously had not moved on - the burning desire to have her back literally killed him slowly.
Despite her positive attitude, Chelsie was starting to feel worried. One random evening, she updated her status on Facebook where she asked to be taken out on a date or by a sniper – which were both fine by her. Only one person commented.
The only comment on the Facebook post was from Tim who replied "I could do both." The reply seemed harmless and no one took note of it till a few days later.
Nobody read any meaning to Tim's Facebook comment. Few days after the comment, Chelsie, Billy, Chelsie’s half brother, Seth, and their friends - Courtney and Sammi chose to hang out at Tall Cedar, a local restaurant in the town. Surprisingly, they met Tim there already - him and Billy got into a heated argument right on the spot.
After exchanging threat and insult-filled words, they fixed a local car wash as a preferred place for settlement - with their fists. Chelsie and Billy rode in one car, while Sammi, Courtney and Seth hopped into the other. Little did they know where it was heading...
Arriving at the car wash at 3 a.m. in the morning, Chelsie and Billy walked to the rear where they expected to meet Tim. Of course he was there, but what they saw made them stutter – Tim who was wearing a ballistic vest had three loaded guns with him. Tim immediately pulled the trigger and killed them both, while he patiently waited for the arrival of those in the next car.
As soon as they drove into the parking lot, they were welcomed by gunshots from Tim's gun. The windows of the car were shattered. Tim and Courtney were hit by bullets from the sporadic shootout - they died instantly. After the gruesome murder, Tim pointed the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.
Only one person survived – Sammi. He had crouched down in the backseat when the gunshots started. Although he scaled through unhurt, he was terrified by what he witnessed. The police arrived at the scene of the bloodbath and were shocked at what they discovered.
Melcroft was thrown into confusion by the events. They lost four young adults in one day: Chelsie Cline, Seth Cline, Courtney Snyder, and Billy Porterfield.
It was a period of grief, as friends and family comforted each other during the aftermath. After facts emerged, everyone wondered why they all didn’t take Tim’s Facebook response seriously. The unanswered question was; could the bloodbath have been prevented if the authorities were promptly alerted?
The residents of Melcroft held vigils for the victims and even people from outside the town came also to show their solidarity. Most horrific is how even innocent people ended their youthful lives in the sad event.
Memorial sites for the victims were built and charities set up to raise money for the funeral expenses. This was deemed necessary by friends of the victims’ families who understood how devastating it would be to allow them to bury their children.
Another saddening detail was that Chelsie and Courtney - who were both parents – would never watch their kids become adults. Nevertheless, their children have friends and family of their parents to tell them good things about their wonderfully loving mother.
Tim’s actions threw the entire town of Melcroft into mourning the loss of young adults. Maybe this tragedy could have been prevented if someone took Tim’s Facebook comment seriously and had it investigated. This is a reminder that serious threats should not be taken for granted – both in the real world or on social media.
Also noteworthy is that abusive behavior or any
sort of harassment should be taken seriously. Such behavior -particular when coming from anyone with a
violent history - should never be overlooked. Hopefully, the families of
the victims can leave behind the memory of these terrible events and move on.
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