Vail Daily letter: Trying to understand Vail shooting suspect
Vail, CO, Colorado
It is interesting to see how many people feel an attachment or sense of compassion for Rossi. It is surprise to try to understand why this happened.
The questions Don Rogers asks in his editorial may or may not get answered as some of the facts unfold and are made public, and we will all form opinions or continue to ponder.
For some reason I feel the need to comment. Probably because it is still all to close to home even though I now live elsewhere.
Like many of you, I too knew Rossi, and now shocked to read of his actions. We met some time ago back around 1978 while working at Copper Mountain. Like many locals at a ski area, he displayed character definitely unique to him and the community. Some found him entertaining, some didn’t understand him, some didn’t relate, and who knows what the rest thought.
What prevailed for me and I’m sure others are the memories of care-free days flying down a slope and sharing the exhilaration of another great day, at the bottom of the run, looking up the run we had just mastered with a beer in hand. Only to be in quest for the next best run of the day. Sadly quite a bit has changed over the years.
Mr. Carnes’ take on this, “Vail Valley lost innocence awhile ago,” must be shared by many. Society’s rules of existence have changed forever. One thing for certain, things change.
I believe we must do our best to effect the change we wish to partake in, not just stand and accept what others will dish out. Each one of us has a choice. The environment we exist in can be brutal and unfair to many, especially those struggling to carve out their own little piece of happiness without interference, only wishing to fit in and not intentionally wanting to harm others. I say be careful what we impose on others.
The community comments on what it knows. I hope commenting is to help others cope, understand and improve. Throwing gasoline on the fire won’t help, and I’m certain some will see flame in this message, though that’s not my intent.
Unfortunately, we do not have the crystal ball to reveal detailed events of what might have caused what happened that night in the Sandbar.
The man who lost his life, Mr. Kitching, made an great impression on many, as well. It is easy to see that based on the words of his family. I pray they can live their lives with the best memories of him to cherish forever.
Bless them all, the victims of this tragedy. I am saddened by this situation and wish the survivors many better days ahead. I know it will be difficult for some time to come.
Back to Rossi for a moment. The world is a small place and even smaller in the ski business of which I spent just over 20 years dedicated to and have since tried new adventures.
There was one spring, ’79 or ’80 after the mountain had closed, I made a trek to challenge myself on the slopes of Lake Tahoe. I guess six months of snow and skiing in Summit County wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t enough for Rossi, either, as I bumped into him on the slopes of Heavenly Valley.
Seeing a familiar face from a distant home front was just what we needed and took time to hang out for a few days.
We pooled our funds and shared a cheap motel for a couple of nights. Then we proceeded with what we did best in the day — skiing and riding very slow chairs lifts.
Slow chairs gave you a chance to talk, reflect and get to know someone.
Rossi had the enthusiasm to live and enjoy life more than many I have crossed paths with, and I have met many. I also met one of the haunting “demons” early one morning.
We were awakened by a trash collection truck which slammed a dumpster against the back wall of our room. To my surprise, instantly Rossi was on his feet, quite vocally freaked out, and ready for combat at the same time. It was obvious to me he was not mentally in the room we shared.
Somehow, being a bit dazed myself from unfamiliar surroundings and all the commotion, I was able to quickly talk him down and help him realize it was only a garbage truck in Lake Tahoe. It was only then I learned of his experiencing flash-backs of ‘Nam.
My point: He never disclosed them to me previously and I can tell you the moment was very real to him. He didn’t advertise it all back then. It seems from what I have read Rossi’s reality got more diverse, and most are calling it BS. It seems he never got past it and felt shunned and outcast. Fear and mistrust prevailed, unfortunately.
As the years past, we occasionally crossed paths. It was always good to see his smiling face and a friendly welcome. I do not doubt those in closer proximity and in more recent years saw another side of Rossi too.
I wish we all had the profound, and maybe divine wisdom to help people like him be more comfortable and exist without fear.
From this point of view, did something cause Rossi to snap? I would say yes! Could Rossi have controlled is actions and should have known better?
Maybe, but I’m not sure. Did the medicine prescribed by the system fail him and us? My guess is it is highly probable.
Did someone push his “freak out” buttons by accident, for amusement, malicious attack, or at all? We don’t know the answer to this, but we all have limits and triggers to future actions.
I expect the truth will emerge and when it does, some sense of relief or understanding may follow.
This viewpoint is offered not to make excuse and reason for Rossi.
My intent would be to help open one’s mind to recognize when a little more compassion and listening might help an individual get through to the next day with a little more calm and happiness than the previous day.
It doesn’t take much to do a little something to make another person’s day better. There are those some deem less fortunate than ourselves. If you do, extend a hand once in awhile. The effect just might be long lasting and less tragic.
I learned a lot and have many great memories from the many great people I met in Vail, Summit County and other Colorado communities.
Thank you all …