The assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy are etched in the memories of all middle-aged and elderly Americans. For older New Orleanians, there are two additional moments that stand out: the Rault Center fire in November of 1972 and the Howard Johnson sniping incident in early January of 1973.
For some reason, the name of the Black Muslim HoJo sniper, Mark Essex, popped into my head recently and I decided to look him up online. This post offers a thorough account of the incident and the events leading up to it. It’s broken into 15 short “chapters” that can be read in less than an hour total (chapters 16 & 17 display photos and citations).
The story starts out by noting that the Black Muslim DC sniper, John Allen Williams (AKA Muhammad), then 12 years old, lived in nearby Baton Rouge at the time, a fact I originally interpreted as an interesting bit of trivia and nothing more.
I was subsequently struck, however, by an odd detail in Chapter 7 that reminded me of Muhammad: Mark Essex going into a small local grocery to buy lipstick.
Who was this “loner” buying lipstick for — a girlfriend, a boyfriend, himself? How many men, white or black, have ever bought lipstick? I never have, and no woman has ever asked me to — including my wife of 25 years, who no doubt knows that I’d come home with the wrong brand/shade/applicator/whatever.
When he went on his rampage decades later, Muhammad was accompanied by a young male companion of close, but uncertain relationship.
Which raises the question: Is there some Muslim/homosexual connection that we need to know about, or did these two fonts of rage just happen to converge in one person, twice?