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July 18, 2024

Thomas Crooks: Conspirator or Seeker of Glory?

The almost-assassin Thomas Crooks got into shooting position on that roof knowing that the Secret Service counter-snipers on the building had seen him. He knew his life would end as soon as he pulled the trigger, and probably before.


Think about that, and then weigh it against the argument of Secret Service incompetence versus Secret Service conspiracy. You needn’t pay attention to the fake “Jonathan Willis” statement or ponder the reasons that no Secret Service fellow was on that roof; only the video of Trump speaking and the counter-snipers hurriedly shifting their guns and tripods above him says it all. The people who counted knew Crooks was there and Crooks knew that he’d been spotted. All the same, he took aim and pulled the trigger.


If his attempt was the sharp end of a conspiracy process, the conspirators had one hell of a dedicated gunman.


His behavior was so suspicious that one cop took his photo and circulated it. Passers-by spotted him climbing up the roof; some even videoed him. This was not a James Bond-type of guy.


He had reconnoitered the area, had a brand-new ladder with him — which he apparently never used — in case he needed to get on that roof or maybe another; and indeed, he might have found a less-conspicuous place to shoot from if he had been willing to move back to another roof among the many of the complex. But he carried a range-finder, and probably did not trust his shooting from farther than 150 yards; and really he would have only or two shots before Trump was smothered in Secret Service.


And he stayed off electronic communication. As of this writing, there is nothing in his cell phone or computer history that indicated his intentions, much less a political ideology. He had looked at both Biden’s and Trump’s campaign schedules.


Crooks was an evidently intelligent man who had earned an “an associate’s degree with honors in engineering science” from a community college; give him extra credit if it turns out that he really did by himself build the bombs found in the trunk of his car. Yet he was working as a dietary aide in a nursing home, putting boiled eggs and sugarless yogurts on trays — not exactly cutting-edge science. His social life seemed quiet, maybe even lonesome; no girlfriend has turned up quaking and teary, declaring that she couldn’t understand why he’d done this. Too bad — girlfriends have probably prevented more assassinations than the Secret Service ever did.


The only indication of conspiracy that I see is that the Secret Service hesitated so long before shooting him. That he was spotted and flagged as suspicious but nothing was done — that argument is easily explained by the disconnect between local cops and Secret Service pros, whom we give too much credit. Back when Obama was first running for president, a reporter told me that he walked past blocks and blocks of Secret Service guys with nothing more than a press pass on a lanyard, which got scarcely a glance. He walked right up to Obama’s Kansas City campaign HQ, and there, ten feet away through the window, stood the man himself.


But yes, it is odd that Crooks ultimately got his shots off.


Nevertheless, the fact is that it’s not hard to kill someone under protection if you’re a little careful, have a little smarts, and you’re able to take your shot from the length of a football field.


And if you have the motivation. To me, Crooks was one of those empty young men that turn up everywhere in America. They believe in the Top Gun fantasies of action movies, long for the horny beauties they see in porn, brag about the scores they get killing electronic baddies in computer games, dream of the cars they’ll drive when they have Elon Musk’s billions. They move in a history-less, family-less, junk-filled dreamscape that is an escape from dull labor and tight budgets. Unbalanced and unmoored, they have short tempers and shoot scathing, curse-laden insults. Just look at the comments section of  any political website: many of them tell us nothing more than how close the savage lies under the surface of the taxpayer.


Take a look at the photos of Crooks: neat and groomed when he graduated, the other a few years later when he was stalking the fairgrounds, with a loser’s mustache and limp long hair. An unhappy man.


Conspiracy theories give a sense of logic to the world, and I believe in several of them myself: the JFK assassination, 9-11, even JFK Jr. But with the near-assassination by Thomas Crooks, I think that the real explanation is not politics or conspiracy or ideology, but a frightening banality: a downtrodden young man saw a chance to be Someone — even at the cost of his life. What kind of conspirators could have motivated a man like that?



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