Wannabe Gangsters Just 'Tryin' to Eat' When Killed During Break-In

After breaking into an elderly widow’s house twice in a row, two teenagers were killed by an armed occupant, in self-defense.  Steven Crider, 17, and Michael Sambrano, 14, were shot in the chest numerous times after breaking in to the widow’s home.  Now, the dead thieves’ friends and family are publicly complaining that “it was wrong that they were shot” and that the thieves were just “tryin’ to eat.”

Everyone needs to eat, but how many people actually need to steal in order to eat?  The number must be extremely small.  Without knowing all of the circumstances of their lives, it doesn’t seem that the two dead thieves were destitute or starving.  To the contrary, they had money for several urban-themed fashion accessories.

Based on the photos they posted on social media, the teens had enough resources for neck tattoos, arm tattoos, jewelry, and fancy baseball caps.  From their style of dress and gestures, we can see them mimicking hip hop or gang mannerisms.


Dead thief Steven Crider. Source: CBS Sacramento.

Picture of the two dead robbers gesturing gang signs and wearing “bling.” Source: CBS Sacramento.

One of the dead thieves, Steven Crider, had a tattoo on his neck reading “Ashleigh,” possibly inspired by his girlfriend Ashleigh Davison.  Davison said of Crider, “He was a good person.  He was just misunderstood.

The Youngest of Eight Children, Dead Thief was “Tryin’ to Eat”

What if Crider was really not misunderstood?  Perhaps his problem was that he was understood for exactly what he was: a selfish criminal.  Here was a young man who carried himself and behaved – on several occasions – like a thug. Here was a young man who managed to attain frivolous, fashionable clothes; tattoos; and jewelry.  If he had the income or access to acquire all of that, then he had the income to purchase food.  The thieves could have provided for themselves, but they willingly chose to take from others instead.

Cindy Crider, mother of dead thief Steven Crider, said, “I’m never gonna forget this till the day I die, wondering how my son felt, the last breath he took, what he seen [sic].”  Steven was the youngest of Crider’s eight children.

When the founders wrote that a free society depends on a moral populace, they may have had a cautious foreboding that the likes of Crider and her progeny would one day walk among us.

Cindy Crider, mother of dead thief Steven. Source: LA Times.

Friends and family of the dead robbers are offering very modern, progressive perspectives on the incident.  “They were on their way out the door, and I just think it was wrong that they were shot,” said Michael’s sister Christina Sambrano.

When asked by a local CBS reporter why the teens broke into the home, one of the teens’ friends said the following:

Reporter: “What was he doing breaking into the home?”

Friend: “I guess tryin’ to eat.”

This excuse comes from somewhere, and it must be refuted whenever it rears its toxic head.  To begin with, it should be pointed out that no food appears to have been stolen during the first two break-ins.

Friend of dead robber said he was “tryin’ to eat.” Source: CBS Sacramento.

Dr. Stanton Samenow, a clinical psychologist who has worked with criminals for three decades, rejects the hunger excuse.  “Criminals may complain about lack of opportunity, discrimination, etc. but sport cell phones, other electronics, designer label tennis shoes, etc. They seem to manage to obtain what they want.” 

Samenow is the acclaimed author of Inside the Criminal Mind.  According to him, pointing to hunger is a convenient way for certain people to avoid facing the truth about crime.  “There are people who rob for the sheer excitement of it.  There is excitement at every phase – planning the crime, excitement enroute to the crime, excitement during the commission of the crime, and excitement in getting away with it.”  Samenow says, “Glib formulations about hunger causing crime enable people to make sense of what seems to not make sense.” 

The late James Q. Wilson said that the problem of crime “reflected a defect of character.”  But perspectives like Wilson’s have largely been silenced by academia today.  Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson says that “social scientists, and especially sociologists, have abandoned or underplayed the fundamental concepts of norms and values.”  Norms and values, not hunger, are exactly what would explain the conduct of the two suburban gangsters.

Value judgments critical of criminals may be hard to come by in academia or the news media, but there was no holding back on the part of the widow’s neighbors, several of whom spoke to reporters and openly defended the shooting.  “Justice was served,” said Robert Robinson, an area resident whose home was recently broken in to.

Another neighbor, speaking to a reporter, said, “He was not an innocent bystander.  I’m sorry the little boys or teenagers were killed, but if it’s my family, my family comes first.”  Only time will tell whether self-preservation and moral judgment can withstand the corrosive influence of false compassion and toxic tolerance.

In addition to the break-ins at the widow's home, there had been a rash of robberies and break-ins in the surrounding neighborhood.  On April 20, the widow’s home was broken into, and her purse, keys, and jewelry were stolen.  Fingerprints from that break-in match prints taken from the home where the shooting occurred.

On April 29, burglars broke a window at 2:00 a.m. but ran off before stealing anything.  A friend and neighbor of the widow said, “This Easter, she was robbed, and so she had replaced her deadbolt locks with double locking deadbolts and they still got in after that.”

After this second break-in, the widow asked her brother to stay with her for protection.

On May 4, the two teens attempted to break in again.  However, the homeowner’s brother was home, and the teens were shot dead after breaking in.  Crider, 16 years old, and Sambrano, 14 years old, were reportedly shot multiple times in the chest.  Local police say the shooting was done in self-defense.

If there are fewer robberies in the neighborhood now, we might take that as a sign that the people “tryin’ to eat” suddenly figured out another way to do so.

John Bennett (MA, University of Chicago, Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences '07) is a writer whose work has appeared in The Daily Caller, Townhall.com, World Net Daily, Human Events, Liberty Unyielding, Accuracy in Media, and FrontPage Magazine, among others.  He has been a featured guest on the Laura Ingraham, Jerry Doyle, and Lars Larson programs.  Follow @Jthomasbennett

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com