Michael Jason Spradling 1982-2007

My nephew Michael was murdered in Lompoc six months ago, and I’ve been thinking a lot about him and the person(s) who murdered him. I don’t know why he was murdered. Was it gang related? He was a gang associate. Was he murdered for money? He didn’t have much. Was it over drugs? He used them. Was it because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time? What did the person(s) who murdered Michael hope to accomplish? I don’t know. I do know that Michael didn’t deserve to die.

To some, Michael was a scary-looking young man. He had tattoos, a shaved head, and wore baggy clothes. He had been in prison twice for burglary. Some say that he stole for others and not for himself. Who knows? It doesn’t matter now. He was not a very good thief and did the time for the crime. He was a gentle soul. No matter where Michael was, he always sent me a card and called me on my birthday. He didn’t like to fight; he usually went out of his way to avoid a fight. Michael and I talked while he was in prison and I encouraged him not to return to Lompoc when he got out-he would have a better chance of staying clean, sober, and out of trouble if he went somewhere else. He said he had to come back. He had to prove to himself that he could stay clean and out of trouble and if he couldn’t do it here, then it didn’t count. Besides, this is where most of his family lives. He wanted to show his cousins, nieces, and nephews that they didn’t have to live their lives the way he lived his. He wanted to protect them from the pain he felt. He didn’t want them to go through what he had been through in his young life.

Michael was murdered in the so-called safe zone. What does that mean? It definitely wasn’t safe for Michael, or Kenneth Sosa, or the other young men who were murdered in Lompoc this past year. These murders are still unsolved because people are afraid to speak about what they know. I understand that. I don’t like it, but I understand it. If Michael’s murder was gang related, I wonder if the person(s) who murdered Michael knew the effect it would have on his family. I wonder if they care. I wonder if they think about their families and how they will feel if/when what happened to Michael happens to them.

Michael left behind a mother and father who love him, along with two brothers, a sister, and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. The person(s) who murdered Michael didn’t hurt him, at least not for long. But my family feels the pain of loss every day. I wonder if they think about their families feeling that pain. I wish they would think about it. If you know anything about Michael or the other young men who have been murdered in Lompoc, please call the Lompoc Police Department Anonymous Tips Hotline at 736-0519. I don’t want anyone else to feel the loss and pain that I feel.

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