To the outside world, the Stafford, Virginia family of Aaron Jackson, LaTasha Thomas and their two children seemed happy. In reality, that was anything but the case. On May 5, Jackson used a semiautomatic AK-47 assault rifle to kill Thomas, before using a handgun to kill his children (ages 2 ½ and 1 ½) and himself.
Police responding to the crime scene at the family s trailer discovered the bodies of the four victims, as well as six handguns, the AK-47 assault rifle, numerous boxes of ammunition, a sword, and a machete. The kitchen counter top in the trailer was crowded with empty liquor bottles. Jackson, 24, was discovered wearing a bulletproof vest.
Jackson and Thomas had been having relationship problems, and in the days before the shooting Thomas told others she wished to move out of the mobile home the couple shared. Jackson had begun a relationship with another woman, Ashley Price, with whom he shared an appetite for both alcohol and cocaine.
Jackson did not have a significant criminal record, however, and had been involved in no reported incidents of domestic violence. According to Jackson s sister, his primary source of stress was financial in nature: “He was obviously upset-stuff wasn’t going to well-everybody was having problems with money.” Despite these issues, many who knew the family were baffled by the murder-suicide. One neighbor commented, I sold them ice cream just the other day. They got SpongeBob ice cream.
Authorities reported that Jackson possessed a concealed carry permit in the state of Virginia. He carrie[d] a gun with a holster underneath him, said Price, who stated that Jackson felt the need to protect himself in case he was ever attacked in public.
Ultimately, Jackson s guns would provide him no protection. There was nothing extraordinary about his relationship issues, struggles with substance abuse, or financial problems-such stresses are experienced every day in our country by gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Regrettably, though, Jackson s guns provided a permanent solution to temporary problems-allowing him to quickly and easily take not only his own life, but also the lives of those he loved, before cooler heads could prevail.