Though the events leading to Colin Dalebroux's death last week at Fitzsimons Park are still under investigation, both his family in Wisconsin and the Evanston Police Department have suggested he committed suicide with a pipe bomb.
Current and former residents from the neighborhood surrounding Nichols Middle School – calling themselves Nichols' Neighbors – assembled this past Sunday morning on the playground of the park. The neighbors sought to reclaim the park following last week's tragedy.
The neighbors have shared a Yahoo! Internet listserv, called "NicholsNeighbors," for years. Subscribers receive everything from updates on neighborhood news, block party announcements, feedback on contractors, and alerts about occasional, wayward door-to-door solicitors.
I'm a member of the Nichols Neighbors listserv, having utilized it for all the reasons mentioned. I've been struck by how emotionally charged some of the commentary has been about last week's events.
Whilst all of us heard (and felt) the surreal, mechanical rumbling of news helicopters hovering over our homes, the listserv provided a modicum of reality. Familiar screen names extolled information about what police, neighbors and Nichols students were saying. Our alderman, Don Wilson, kept us informed on police findings. If residents had questions, such as when they might return to their homes after the bomb squad's evacuations, they could check in on the listserv.
As the days went by, police removed the yellow tape and barricades from our streets. Still, the communication kept coming on the listserv…updates from school officials, poems written to the memory of the deceased, and questions posed to members about how this could happen in this neighborhood. The listserv brought many of us together, quelling our worries, assuaging our concern that our neighborhood wasn't a safe place to be.
Some might (and did) call it morbid, the extolling of sadness over a stranger's loss. But when that stranger commits such a violent act on the very playground our children play on? When that stranger is in such pain he chooses to end his life in a place which brings so many people together? When that stranger has the power to bring so many "strangers" together?
Suddenly, he's no stranger. In one way or another, he'll always be one of us.
Here is Colin Patrick Dalebroux's obituary:
May he rest in peace.