The senseless, savage murder of a young man on an Ashland bike path is certainly cause for concern and caution. But it should not be cause to overreact, nor one to sow divisions within the community.

The senseless, savage murder of a young man on an Ashland bike path is certainly cause for concern and caution. But it should not be cause to overreact, nor one to sow divisions within the community.

David Grubbs was brutally killed on the bike path near Hunter Park on Nov. 19. It was a shocking event in a town that rarely sees violence, let alone murder. It is even more disconcerting that police say this appears to have been a random attack.

The nature and location of the murder has caused people all over town to exercise additional caution. Given the circumstances of the killing, that's probably warranted, at least in the short term. People should avoid walking alone in isolated places after dark. Walking in pairs or sticking to areas with more people and traffic makes sense.

But it doesn't make sense to use this as a reason to be afraid in a community that continues to be an extremely safe place to live. It doesn't make sense to hole up at home or avoid taking walks even in the daylight. It doesn't make sense to run out and buy a weapon to carry around.

And it doesn't make sense to try to blame others for what's happened. The assailant is guilty of a horrific crime. Those looking to cast blame should direct it there, where it belongs, and not toward the police or the city, who by all accounts have acted responsibly and compassionately in responding to the crime.

It's probably true that a crime like this hits harder in a small city. First, people's sense of safety is abruptly brought into question. Then there is the matter of proximity. Every city resident lives relatively close to the crime scene, probably a couple of miles away at the most. So, yes, it has a very personal feeling for many in the city.

That's evident in the turnout for a community forum conducted by Ashland police Tuesday night, a forum that drew an estimated 500 people. Police Chief Terry Holderness, Mayor John Stromberg and a trauma counselor answered about 15 questions from the audience and then stayed for an hour talking with people one-on-one.

Some wondered why they didn't take more questions, and one audience member said, "This could have been prevented" if the bike path were lighted, an unnecessary shot taken at the city. The idea of lighting the path is not unreasonable, but it is unreasonable to suggest the city is somehow at fault for a random act of murder.

Ashland remains a very safe place by all statistics. Crime reports for the first six months of this year rose 8 percent, Ashland police say. But that was driven almost entirely by an increase in bicycle thefts. A national crime tracking site puts Ashland's crime rate at less than 30 percent of average figures for the United States.

Those facts don't diminish the tragedy or seriousness of David Grubbs' murder. Residents certainly should take precautions until there is a resolution, but this should not be cause for Ashland to stop being Ashland. There are no opposing sides here; all Ashland residents are in this together.

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