It saddens my heart every time I read or see a story on the news about a mother killing herself and/or her children. Recently, Lashanda Armstrong drove a minivan into the New York Hudson River after enduring a domestic violence dispute at home. She drowned herself along with her four children. Her 10-year-old son, Lashaun Armstrong, managed to roll down a window of the sinking vehicle, get out of the car, and swim to shore. Killed along with Lashanda Armstrong were Landon Pierre, 5, Lance Pierre, 2, and 11-month-old Laianna Pierre, police said. Lashaun is staying with his mother’s aunt Angela Gilliam and “doing fine,” she said.
It might be of interest for you to know that a relative called police to report a dispute at the home of Lashanda Armstrong who was only 25 years old. Shortly afterward, she drove off a boat ramp several blocks away from her apartment approximately 60 miles north of New York City.
Officials believe Lashaun Armstrong hit the button on a power window to escape from the driver’s side as the minivan began to sink in the 45-degree water. Fire Chief Michael Vatter said that the vehicle went under within two minutes. “He got out of the car, got up onto the boat ramp, turned around and it was gone,” Vatter said.
A passer-by found a soaked and cold Lashaun Armstrong along the shore and took him to a firehouse for help. The boy was so distraught that he had difficulty talking but ultimately told firefighters what happened, the fire chief said. Rescuers went immediately to the river.
Divers searched for about an hour before finding the minivan submerged in 10 feet of water about 25 yards from the shore. They used a tow truck to pull it up the ramp. Everyone inside was dead.
Before this tragic incident occurred, Armstrong appeared stressed-out when she picked up the children at the Young and Unique Christian Development Child Care, said Shaniesha Strange, who is a supervisor in the infant room.
“The only thing she’d say was that she was so alone,” Strange said. “She’s a single parent. She takes great care of her kids, goes to school and works. She really needed a helping hand.”
The man police identified as the father of the three dead children, Jean Pierre, was questioned. Police would not give details. He apparently didn’t live with the mother and children, and he could not immediately be located for a comment.
Hetty Minatee, another teacher at the day care center said that Armstrong enrolled the four children there in September. At first Jean Pierre would come in with Armstrong in order to pick up the kids. “A couple of weeks ago, she came in a little upset,” Minatee said. “She said, ‘Miss Minatee, I don’t want the father to pick the kids up or have any contact with them.’ She said she was trying to get a court order so he could never see the kids again.”
Why did LaShanda want the court order against her ex? That is the question! This mother intentionally killed herself and her children. People want to know why a seemingly loving mother would resort to suicide-murder.
Before everyone judges her, consider this: when people are dealing with domestic situations often there’s no one to step in and help resolve the issue. People like to instigate or standby on the sidelines and talk about you more than help you. I know this to be true because I have spent a considerable amount of time talking and working with battered women and their children. Not to mention the fact that I was a battered woman myself. Fortunately for me, I decided not to have children with my abusive ex-husband. I couldn’t imagine having children with a man who was violent towards me. Obviously, I didn’t care what happened to me but I do care about children. I couldn’t put them in harm’s way. As a matter of fact, I think that I would protect them from an abusive man by any means necessary. I know this about myself. Would I send them to GOD if my man or my ex began abusing them? I don’t know. I don’t think so but the truth is no one knows what they are capable of in a hostile environment, which reminds me of Toni Morrison’s book—Beloved.
In Beloved, the mother, Sethe , feels that it is her moral duty to rid the children of a life that cannot be tolerated. In order to save her children, she feels as if she must kill them, so that they will never be able to experience the hardships and trouble of slavery that she went through. Even though she overcame slavery, she doesn’t want her children, her ‘best things,’ to even have to think about going through what she went through. It is especially important “that the girl-children be made safe, first and foremost. They are the ones who can grow to have their milk stolen, their wombs defiled, their womanhood mocked” (Morrison 179). In Beloved, we see the constant idea of the stealing of a woman’s milk. In order to prevent this from happening, to protect her children, Sethe’s “best things,” from experiencing what she did, she begins by killing her first-born daughter in an attempt to unify them together on the other side where they will be safe from all the dreadful outcomes of slavery. The concept of protection and destruction comes into play whole-heartedly throughout Beloved.
As Sethe speaks and explains to Beloved why she had to kill her “best thing” she says, “My plan was to take us all to the other side. They stopped me from getting there, but they didn’t stop you from getting here. Ha ha. You came right on back like a good girl, like a daughter” (Morrison 240). Here, we see the story coming full circle. Sethe had to get her daughter out of this world in order for her to be safe… She had no intention of leaving her oldest daughter cold and alone in an unfamiliar place. Rather, she had every intention in joining her, along with her other children, had she not been interrupted. Sethe clearly values her children as is evident in her descriptions of them, and she does for them what no person can do. Clearly, Sethe does not want to hurt her children. Instead she wants to protect them from the almost unbearable life of slavery. Sethe’s love was so “thick” that she was the only person able or strong enough to cause her daughter pain so that she could not be dirtied, but would always be clean and safe, on the other side.
Sethe killed her daughter as a means of protecting her. Morrison makes that clear. Again, no one knows what they will do in a hostile situation until it happens so it is an act of futility to say I would never do this or that. The mind is a powerful entity. Sometimes it plays tricks on you. I do not advocate or condone this kind of behavior. Killing yourself or others is just flat-out wrong. The Bible tells us that it is a sin so I don’t think that I would intentionally go against the commandment—“Thou shall not kill.” However, I am not certain because I have never been in that particular situation because I don’t have any children. I am merely explaining that the mind and heart will make you do things that are seemingly out of your known character. I will say that Lashanda and Sethe were two loving mothers who wanted to protect their children by any means necessary. Let me just say for the record that there is a season and a period for everything. And you will find your seasons and periods in the Bible in “ Ecclesiastes Three.”
Love, hope, peace, and joy,