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The [Wednesday] Papers

"The man who shot and injured three law enforcement officers from the stairwell of a South Elgin condo building last week was beset by health and money problems and driven to desperation by a final phone call of bad financial news, his family said," the Elgin Courier-News reports.

"Frank Dripps, 52, was shot and killed by police on the Fourth of July, ending an hours-long standoff during which Dripps hunkered down with a shotgun and a rifle and fired at officers multiple times."

"On July 3, hours before his death, Dripps learned his Social Security benefit was being eliminated, said his wife, Paula Dripps. A letter to Frank Dripps dated May 28 said his $750 monthly Supplemental Security Income would be reduced to $167.50 due to a change in his family's income. Paula Dripps called that an error by the Social Security Administration in calculating her income.

"Then in a phone call last week, Frank Dripps was told his benefit would be cut to zero and he had been overpaid for several months and would owe a repayment of $6,000 to $7,000, his wife said. Dripps had been receiving benefits after he was diagnosed with two diseases that affected his spine and made it difficult to move and impossible to work, his family said.

"They said he was owed nothing and that we owed them," Paula Dripps said. "He was mad at the government."

"The July 3 phone call - on top of his spinal problems that had sidelined his career as a home construction contractor, depression, and feeling 'less' for not being able to care for his wife - was the last straw, [his wife] Paula Dripps said."


Dripps' family is not making excuses - and I'm not either. Obviously I know next to nothing about Frank Dripps' life and his problems. But I can't help but feel that Frank Dripps stands for something - many things all at once, not all of them pretty but deserving of sympathy - even while he put the lives of others in danger. Too many people are living on the edge of total despair, unable to find a way out.

"He wanted to end things himself, but he couldn't bring himself to do it," his sister Deborah told the Courier-News. "He wanted a way for someone else to relieve his pain for him."


"For the past 10 years, Dripps had struggled with spinal deterioration and had a dual diagnosis of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis and ankylosing spondylitis.

"Dripps at times had used a wheelchair, scooter, walker and sometimes a cane. A cane was with him when he was shot.

"Since moving to Illinois 13 months ago, finding a health care provider who would take on his case proved difficult, his wife said. There were a bevy of surgeries over the years - toes amputated, surgery on both feet, replacement of his left shoulder and plans for a hip replacement.

"'He was in constant pain, every day,' Paula Dripps said."


However . . .

"Frank Dripps' life took a turn for the better about 10 years ago when he married Paula, family said. The couple, who had been friends for 25 years before their courtship, got involved in a California church, recommitted their lives to Christ, and were baptized together, Paula said."


This turned out to be a far different story than I thought it would be when I first saw a headline a man killed who was mad at the government, which inferred to me a conspiratorial gun nut or somesuch who maybe thought he was receiving radio signals through his fillings. Instead, it appears to be the story of a difficult life - though one made sweeter by a loving partner - buffeted by bad luck, an unforgivably horrible health care system, and an incredibly harmful notion of masculinity.


"Police didn't initially return [Dripps'] fire. However, about a dozen area police departments and two SWAT teams responded to the scene," Law Enforcement Today reports.

Armed with a scoped rifle and a shotgun, police say Dripps barricaded himself inside a stairwell and was yelling vulgarities at police, saying he would, "shoot officers if they came at him."

Crisis negotiators attempted to talk him down throughout the four-hour standoff, during which police say he raised the weapons to his shoulder "off and on."

After retreating to his condo unit, police say the 52-year-old came charging out opening fire on police around 2:30 a.m. Hence, a SWAT team returned fire, and Dripps was struck. As a result, he was pronounced dead at the scene.


New on the Beachwood . . .

The Lost Children Of Chon Thanh
'This exhibit in Chicago juxtaposes images of children photographed by U.S. Army medic Bob "Doc" Shirley in Chon Thanh, Vietnam in 1969 with recent photographs by Reed Young of the same children taken nearly 50 years later.'


Out: Bryzzo. In: Wavy
Cubs on the road to the All-Star Game.





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The Beachwood Tronc Line: A million times.


Posted on July 11, 2018

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