Shooting in My Town

Trav and I were practicing a bit on the tennis court this morning when an EMT sped down Old County Road, lights flashing, siren wailing. A few moments later a West Tisbury police cruiser followed, then another emergency vehicle. An accident up the road? This was unusual enough that Travvy stopped to listen to the sirens, but not so unusual that I thought much about it.

This weekend I’m looking after a dog who lives on the Tisbury–West Tisbury line, so after Trav and I got home from our walk, I left him on the deck with a peanut-butter-slathered marrow bone and headed down Old County to feed my charge. A police car and several other vehicles were clustered at the end of Skiff’s Lane. Unusual, yes, but again, not so unusual that I wondered what was going on, beyond hoping that no one I knew had had a heart attack.

It wasn’t till I returned home at the end of a busy day that a friend’s message on my machine gave me the news: someone had been shot and killed in my town. This was unusual. Big-time unusual.

From reports in the online editions of the Vineyard Gazette, the Boston Globe, and the Martha’s Vineyard Times, I understand the following: Kenneth Bloomquist, 64, broke into the house on Skiff’s Lane where his estranged wife, Cynthia, 63, was living, and shot her with the shotgun he had brought with him. She then shot him with a small-caliber pistol. He died. She survived, and is reported to be in fair condition after surgery at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

According to some reports, Mr. Bloomquist cut the phone lines before he broke into the house, but Ms. Bloomquist did call 911 — perhaps on a cell?

All reports seem to agree that earlier this month Ms. Bloomquist sought, and was denied, a restraining order on her estranged husband. I know hindsight is 20-20, but I’ve heard this story so often over the years that I want to throw up. Perhaps a reporter will get hold of the judge, one Robert Kane, and ask him why he denied the request.

The Martha’s Vineyard Times seems to think that the big story was that no West Tisbury School students were involved in the incident. The only connection between the incident and the school is that Skiff’s Lane is within a mile of the school. The tennis court from which Travvy and I heard the sirens and watched the cars speed by is right next to the school. We weren’t involved either.

The Boston Globe managed to interview Mr. Bloomquist’s 94-year-old mother, who was shocked to learn of the shooting. She said her son didn’t want the separation from his wife and thought they had “the best marriage ever.” Somehow I don’t think that’s the whole story.

I want to know why Judge Kane denied the restraining order, and I hope Cynthia Bloomquist recovers fully from her injuries.

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About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has two blogs going on WordPress. "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories" is about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard. "Write Through It" is about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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9 Responses to Shooting in My Town

  1. RachelRice says:

    Many years ago when I worked for Island Counseling Center, and lived in Chilmark, a Chilmark officer told me that something like 70 percent of year rounders had at least one registered gun. I remember being shocked at the time. Wonder what the percentage is now.

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  2. Carol Lashnits says:

    I’m sure that having the gun saved her life. And cell phones I guess can be lifesavers! But I agree that the tragedy is that she couldn’t get a restraining order and that needs to be investigated. Would it have made a difference? Maybe not, because had she felt safe, she might not have had a gun to defend herself. On the other hand, would they both have been alive today and could she have gotten the police there earlier?

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    • No way to know. Restraining orders only restrain people who are willing to be restrained, or afraid of the consequences if they violate the order. If Mr. B. had lived on the island, a neighbor or friend might have realized that he was on the verge of going over the top. Maybe some of his neighbors or friends did realize he was losing it, but they didn’t know he was headed this way.

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  3. This is tragic, but what is more amazing is the denial of a restraining order on Martha’s Vineyard. I have never before heard of one being denied to a woman in fear on the Vineyard.

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  4. susan robinson says:

    Very nice pgf of the news supposedly being that n school kids were involved in the shooting, and that you and Trav near the school at the time and you all weren’t involved either. Great juxtaposition making the point.

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  5. I am really sorry to be wondering how many women keep a loaded handgun nearby and also know how to kill with a small caliber pistol. I don’t want to keep dwelling on the number of shots and who fired first etc. More food for thought, a friend told me she had a lengthy list of the gun permits in West Tisbury which, by the way included at least one person with a permit for a machine gun.
    It’s a terrible tragedy all around.
    I told one of my daughters and she replied that she had only heard of one shooting in her town…… this week.

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    • I haven’t shot a gun since I was a teenager, but if I were in Cynthia Bloomquist’s position, I hope I’d have the courage to get a permit, a gun, and the training to use it.

      Now I’m wondering who has the permit for the machine gun . . .

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