Shaniyah Burden is going to miss a lot of things in life.
She will never watch a high school football game on a crisp fall evening, never go to the prom, or graduate from college.
She will never know the joy of getting her first job, picking out her first car, or falling in love.
She will never swim in the ocean, discover her favorite song, or have children.
Shaniyah will never know much about the world she was born into because of some thug with a gun.
On Monday night, a car pulled up in front of a house on the outskirts of Walterboro and the punks in it started shooting.
When they were finished, five people were sent to the hospital and three were dead -- including Shaniyah.
She wasn't even 2 years old.
A tragic pattern
This sort of thing is not supposed to happen anywhere, let alone Walterboro.
There is not a more quintessential Southern town: big enough to have what you need, small enough that everyone pretty much knows everyone else.
In places, Walterboro is frozen in time. You can walk down Washington Street and feel like you have stepped into 1970. It is so authentic, so gorgeously Southern, that Hollywood comes calling every now and then.
But Walterboro has a problem that belies its charm. Street gangs, would-be tough guys, idiots -- call them what you will -- have turned part of this nice town into a war zone. Double-digit homicide numbers don't belong in a town with barely 5,000 souls.
It's a wonder anyone sits outside anymore.
In January, a 22-year-old man was shot and killed on Jared Street, allegedly by a 16-year-old boy. In April, a 29-year-old man was shot and killed on Francis Street. And in June, Adela Pinckney was killed by a bullet that came through her window. She was in bed at the time.
There have been others, and the stories all end the same sad way. People are too scared to tell the police what they know but, even so, it shouldn't be too hard to find these animals.
All of those shootings happened within a few blocks of the house where Shaniyah was killed.
To take a life
A lot of folks in Walterboro say this is the handiwork of gangs -- bored kids with an overabundance of attitude who take offense at every sideways glance or sign of disrespect, real or perceived.
Some say it is all about turf wars, or drug deals gone awry.
In truth, this is all about stupidity. It's about morons with guns who think the world is like a television show, who have no concept of what it means to take a life.
That's what it has to be, because Shaniyah never did anything to anyone. She didn't deserve this.
And if the people who did this can sleep at night, they aren't big men -- they aren't even human.