Sunday, August 26, 2012

Live By the Sword, Die By the Gun

When Drugs Take Over Your Life
by Robert A. Waters

Thirty-six year-old Bongkuk “Steve” Pak [pictured] was shot dead while attempting to rob a Las Vegas restaurant. As he lay bleeding on the street outside, did he relive the glory days of his past? Did he remember the first time he smoked meth? Did he think about his wasted life?

An outstanding high school quarterback, Pak once achieved the unparalleled feat of throwing nine touchdown passes in one game. In that same year, 1994, he was voted MVP for the Las Vegas High School Wildcats. He was also a brilliant student, graduating with honors.

Pak played football for three colleges, including the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels. After he graduated, the former athlete worked several jobs before landing with the Clark County government, making approximately $50,000 per year. But in December, 2010, he entered a drug rehabilitation program and was terminated.

His downfall came as a result of the poison called methamphetamine.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Pak was no stranger to Las Vegas police. He was arrested several times beginning in the summer of 2010. The more serious arrests came from accusations that included possession of methamphetamine, possession of drugs with intent to sell, domestic violence and violation of a restraining order.” He was also arrested for transporting drugs across state lines.

On the afternoon of August 21, Pak burst into the Dairy Queen at 2595 S. Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas. He wore black gloves, a gray knit cap that covered his face, and carried a Samurai-style sword.  There were no customers in the restaurant, which is why he’d chosen it.

A police report stated that "Pak went directly to the cash register and violently swung the sword into the cash register several times," leaving slash marks on the metal.

Michael Wehbe stood behind the counter while his brother, Christian, worked in the back. On hearing the commotion, Christian glanced at a surveillance monitor. Seeing the wild assailant attacking the cash register, he grabbed a 9mm pistol and ran to the front of the store. In a clear case of self-defense, filmed on several monitors, Christian shot the violent robber twice.

Pak stumbled outside and collapsed in the parking lot.

Carol Matteo [pictured],  his alleged accomplice, had driven him to the scene and cased several shops in the area. According to statements she gave investigators, Pak had decided to “jack” someone, presumably for drug money. She’d been in the Dairy Queen just moments before, making sure the coast was clear.

After Pak was shot, Matteo parked the getaway car and rushed to his aid. She was quickly implicated in the crime and charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and burglary.

Christian Wehbe was not charged. He said he thought the assailant might jump the counter and attack him and his brother with the sword.  Investigators determined that, given the circumstances, that was a valid conclusion.

Now let me take a moment to rant.

How many drug addicts have died at the end of a gun? Or a knife? How many more from an overdose? How many are serving long prison sentences, deprived of freedom? How many families’ lives have been destroyed by an addicted spouse or child or sibling?

If someone offers you the stuff, he’s not your friend. He’s your enemy. He's giving you poison, not hope.

Turn and run the other way.

Remember Bongkuk Pak, the guy who had it all before submitting his life to meth, the guy who bled out in the parking lot beneath a plastic DQ sign.


Unknown said...

"Such A sad Ending To A Bright Star"

ezrsed said...

my niece just lost her daughter to heroin on 3/14