The Killing of Alberto Sepulveda: An Open Letter to Barry McCaffrey

"I didn't think kids could get shot." ~ Sam Climber, Jr., Modesto, California, nine years old

Dear General McCaffrey:

On September 13, 2000 an eleven year old boy named Alberto Sepulveda was shot and killed between 6:16 and 6:21 in the morning in Modesto, California. Unlike many recent tragedies involving children that seem mundane, Alberto did not die at the hands of a peer. He was killed by the State.

Alberto's father was allegedly part of a county drug ring engaged in methamphetamine trafficking. His house was raided by SWAT team officers as part of a federal narcotics sweep covering fourteen houses in Stanislaus County. The participating SWAT teams included local authorities as well as the FBI and DEA.

Federal agents with drug warrants were preceded by seven officers. The officer who shot Alberto was David Hawn, a SWAT veteran of almost two decades. Alberto died from an apparently accidental shotgun wound to the back – to the back. Alberto's dead body remained in the house until after 2 p.m.

Alberto enjoyed hide-and-go-seek, water balloon fights, and riding his bicycle. He was in the seventh grade and had two siblings.

Is this what the War on Drugs has come to, General McCaffrey? How many more children need to die for the verboten commerce of their fathers?

September 18, 2000

Myles Kantor is a law student at Stetson University.