In our own backyard


Walking through Walmart with one’s mace tightly gripped and guard always up, is a new adaptation to life in Beaver County. Specifically in Center Township, also known as Monaca, there have been multiple stories flooding news channels, papers, Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms. Ranging from sex traffickers to gun violence, Monaca has become no stranger to dangerous crimes. 

Dating back to early November, there was a confirmed shooting at the Walmart within the plaza on Broadhead Rd. The perpetrator, a man known as Yeshua Bratcher, injured one person with his firearm. 

Although just one person was injured by the firearm, another person was injured by officers as well. Good Samaritan Kenneth Vinyard was violently pushed away from the citizen he was helping and died from strikes to the head caused by a Center Township police officer.  

The shooting shocked many, Walmart and places around, such as Penn State Beaver, went on a temporary lockdown. 

“I am very worried, especially because the shooting at the Walmart was very close to where I work,” junior Jenna Haskey said. 

Haskey works at McDonald’s and has stated concerns about the recent violent crimes in the area. 

Another issue on the come up within Center is the sex trafficking problem many have been facing. Multiple people in the community have come out and said that they were followed around suspiciously, stared at in a predatory manner or even full on chased. Places such as Marshall’s, Walmart, Rural King and Kohl’s have been hot spots for these incidents. 

Even students have been facing these issues, freshman Emma Ward, had an encounter with a man running towards her at the Rural King. Luckily her mother, Jessica Ward, was there with her. After the incident, Ms. Ward posted on her account to let people know the issues they were facing. Stating that the man stared and then started running at her daughter, then turned around as quickly as possible whenever he saw Ms. Ward. Afterwards, they told an employee and then saw the man in the parking lot after the employee walked them out. 

In situations like these, it is so easy to freeze or think irrationally. Making sure one has a plan of escape is a great start to getting out of a dangerous situation. With an issue like gun violence, making sure one is aware of all exits and the environment as a whole is crucial. Looking into the run, hide and fight method may be another tip to surviving during these intense scenarios. From Spectrum News on mass shooting safety, they state, 

“The Run, Hide, Fight method is what’s encouraged by DeRuyter and other law enforcement. ‘The Run, Hide, Fight methodology really does apply to everything,’ Josh DeRuyter said. ‘Running to get away from the threat, hiding if you can’t, and then fighting back when you have no other options still apply. But for large-scale offense, I would say anything that’s out in the public, it’s the same mindset that you’d apply inside a building however, you have to expand it and update it constantly.’”

With sex trafficking, many need to remember that not only strangers can take you, it can be a friend, family member and any other person you may think you can trust. Many ways to help yourself is to not be afraid to cause a scene, carry items with you that may help, such as pepper spray, and always be on the lookout for something out of the ordinary or suspicious. If one feels as if they are being followed in a store, going to an employee and letting them know is also very smart in a situation like this. One could even ask for an employee to walk out with them to their car if they feel unsafe. It is truly so sad that society has come to this, however, it is better to be safe than sorry.