Eugene Francis Wood, 30, had been involved in petty crimes since he was 18, took drugs and spent time in the state penitentiary, but his parents don't understand why they will bury him this Friday with 35 buckshot wounds in his body.
"To me, it's not justice, there's no damn sense to it," said Wood's father, 56-year-old William W. Wood, speaking of the action taken by Jackson, Miss., police Sunday when they killed Eugene Wood with shotguns during an apparent burglary attempt.
"He was a big boy, but it didn't take all those pellets to bring him down," his mother, Margaret added, "couldn't they have shot him in the le g?" asked Eugene's older sister, Pat.
Sgt. Johnny L. Dixon, spokesman for the Jackson, Miss., police, said two policemen fired on Wood outside the Crechales restaurant on Highway 80 at 4:20 a.m. as he and a companion, David William Rivard, 18, of Alexandria, attempted to burglarize the establishment. Both were killed.
Dixon said Wood was standing lookout in some bushes for Rivard who entered the restaurant through a back window. Six policemen were already on the scene because they had been warned of a burglary attempt on the restaurant, Dixon said.
As Rivard came out through the window, police ordered the men to halt and according to Dixon, Wood and Rivard "raised their guns," and two of the policemen opened fire. Dixon said Wood, who did not fire his gun, fell backward.
When asked why the police used shotguns, Dixon replied that "this is our procedure." He said Jackson police carry a pistol and shotgun at all times.
Nothing was taken from the restaurant. Asked what the men might have been looking for, Dixon said he "had no earthly idea, no more than the man in the moon."
Wood's death Sunday was a violent climax to frequent brushes with crime that bagan 12 years ago when he stole some bread, jam and milk from a school in Chesapeake, Va., according to his parents. Later the same year he was convicted of grand larceny, and breaking and entering, according to Virginia's state correctional department. These crimes, plus two shortlived escapes while in the Richmond state penitentiary, kept Wood in prison for six years.
Wood's father said his son, who completed the 10th grade, found it difficult to get a job after he was released from prison "because he was an ex-convict. This worked on him," said his father. But Wood eventually got a job at a gas station and then as a carpenter in Vienna.
His parents said he began breaking into homes in the area and getting involved in drugs. Wood began to collect guns, "He had a .38 and two shotguns; he told me that," said his father. "I told him to get rid of them, but he wouldn't. I think they built up his morale."
Then in February of this year, Wood's 5-year-old marriage broke up, and he separated from his wife and three daughters.
Wood's sister, Debbie, with whom he went to live after separating from his wife, said, "He was tired. He looked at himself: 30 years old, a carpenter, making $4 an hour. He had a low opinion of himself - people made him have it."
She said that at one group therapy session during his drug counseling, "they made him cry." The counselors would accuse him in effect, of stealing, whenever he appeared in nice clothes, she said.
Lloyd K. Mostmann, an elder at Chantilly Christian Assembly in Vienna, met Eugene Wood and his wife, Rita, three years ago. Mosemann discovered they were living in their car in Loundoun County because Wood was out of work and they had no place to stay.
Wood was "a loving father and had a soft heart," according to Mosemann and the even attended church services regularly during oen period. Wood once told his father that he admired Mosemann very much and when the elder Wood asked why his son didn't do the things Mosemann suggested, Eugene Wood said, "I don't know."
"I guess that's one of the mysteries of life," Mosemann reflected yesterday. "Why men rebel against that which they know is right."
The elder Wood, retired after 20 years in the U.S. Navy, said he has little money to pay for the funeral expenses. Acording to Money and King funeral home, Eugene Wood will be buried in the case in which his body was shipped from Mississippi because the family cannot afford to by a casket.
At his mother's request, Wood will be buried in "the loudest, brightest shirt the funeral director can find because he loved colors."