Thirty years later, memory of Winn-Dixie fire, Billy Ferry still vivid
PALM RIVER — They were strangers in that moment 30 years ago — a bag boy, a cashier, a young mother buying food.
On any other day, their gathering at that checkout counter in the Winn-Dixie store in Palm River would have been fleeting, the names of those with them long forgotten.
It was the day a man named John William "Billy" Ferry Jr. — a drifter who lived in the woods near the Winn-Dixie — walked in carrying a bucket full of gasoline, doused customers and employees, and flicked a cigarette lighter.
Five people - three adults and two children - died in the ensuing fire. Ferry is serving five life sentences, one for each victim. That he will spend the rest of his life in jail didn't stop him. He also didn't need a gun to kill those people. All he needed was a willful disregard for human life and no fear of the justice system. Those that claim we need to pass laws restricting access to firearms are all full of s**t. They don't give a rat's ass about mass murders. They care about people having the effective means to resist tyranny, plain and simple.
A bucket of gasoline and a Bic lighter. Five women dead. Two children. Three women in their 20s who should by all rights be entering middle age - 50 to 57, nearly the age of their killer. No one calls for gasoline control. No one rails against high capacity assault buckets. There's no waiting period for gasoline. Yet this meets the criteria established for a mass murder - more than four killed in one episode. Yet no one seems to care about this; there's not Coalition to Stop Gasoline Violence.
Why, it's like the tool used is immaterial - unless it's a gun...
That is all.