Thomas Caffall's mother told the media yesterday that she had been worried about her son's mental state, and from looking at his Facebook page, it's easy to see why. Having a right-wing gun nut in the family is one thing. Having one who goes around quoting Yoda and Emily Dickinson is another.
Caffall joined Facebook a little less than two years ago, when he was apparently living in Temple, and used his first post to gloat on the Baylor Bears' 2010 gridiron victory over the Texas Longhorns. (As an Aggie, this was an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" deal.)
And then it was straight into what appears to be his most abiding love: East Bloc weaponry.
His next post was a link to a Fox News article about a Florida car dealership that threw in a free AK-47 for every new truck purchase. "anyone looking for a new car needs to read this!" Caffall noted, and then liked his own post.
In November of 2010, after a couple of trivial posts about washing shit off his beloved dog and the greatness of his own home-made buffalo wings, and after posting his now-infamous smirking head-shot, Caffall waxed intellectual and trotted out some words of wisdom from Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill.
Caffall grew sentimental around Christmas and exhorted his friends to repost some mush about friendship. He also posted another saluting America's heroic war dead.
And so the year ended, but not before he had liked both Bristol and Sarah Palin, pistol-makers Beretta, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party Patriots, and a group battling for repeal of Obamacare. (He later shifted his presidential allegiance to Michelle Bachmann; coincidentally, the cop he killed shared that last name.)
Caffall was also a NASCAR fan, but his taste in music was less suspect: save for a love of KISS and Ted Nugent, Caffall was on-point: he was a fan of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, White Stripes, Jimi Hendrix, ABBA, and the Violent Femmes. (Okay, that last one's a little creepy in this context. We're shivering while imagining Caffall really digging Gordon Gano wailing out the uber-chilling "Country Death Song.")
In 2011 Caffall moved to College Station and his gun fetish kicked into high gear, starting with the purchase of a huge Soviet Red Army carbine. Caffall noted that if he fixed the bayonet, the rifle was almost as tall as he was. He also bought two boxes of ammo and told the world he would be at the firing range as much as he could. He later lovingly burnished the stock of this rifle with pine tar and used the finished product as his profile pic.
Last June, Caffall proudly showed off another new purchase: a Czech assault rifle.
For such a red-ass patriot, he sure seemed to have a thing for Commie weaponry. And then there was his love of George Orwell. He quoted the ardently socialist Brit twice: "In a time of universal deceit -- telling the truth is a revolutionary act," and more ominously, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
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Alongside Orwell in Caffall's twisted pantheon of sages was Yoda. Yes, Yoda, whose "Do or do not. There is no try." Caffall quoted alongside Orwell, Churchill, and his own words of pseudo-wisdom: "If you feed the bears, they come back."
But it's those lines from Emily Dickinson Caffall very prominently quoted that seem most disquieting. "There is a langour to the life more imminent than pain 'tis pain's successor when the soul has suffered all it can."
Something about a gun-crazed soul so desolate as to take those words so deeply to heart makes this whole tragedy seem foreordained.