Name: Sterling McCain.
Died: April 3, 2021.
Age at death: 24.
Cause of death: Murder (Shooting).
Location: San Angelo, California, USA.
From Sterling’s obituary:
“Sterling had many interests, but some of his favorite hobbies were fishing and playing the guitar. He was a much more accomplished guitarist than fisherman, but that never discouraged him from trying. He loved Harry Potter and had quite the collection of all things Hogwarts. He also enjoyed grilling outdoors; he always cooked the best steaks.
“Sterling had a very caring and sensitive heart. He rescued virtually every dog he found, always making room for one more. He also loved to surprise Myan with simple little gifts that he always tried to keep a secret, but his sly little grin always gave him away. He loved his family and enjoyed the simple things in life.”
Sterling and his wife were having marital problems, so they decided to go on a drive to discuss things and rekindle their relationship. But things went wrong. At a restaurant, Sterling got drunk and argued with a waitress; on the way home, Sterling became non-verbal and had to communicate through text messages, which got increasingly jumbled as he started reversing his pronouns, calling himself a demon, talking about burning in hell, and talking about killing himself and killing his wife.
On the drive home, Sterling’s wife called a family friend, asking for help. The friend gathered a rifle and a large knife, called the police to report a possible assault, and awaited the couple’s car. Sterling’s wife reports that he pulled her hair and grabbed her by the neck.
When they pulled into the driveway, Sterling exited the car, and his wife locked herself into the car. Sterling went to the house and started banging on the siding; then he went to the door. The friend met him at the door, holding a rifle, which Sterling tried to swat away. The friend shot him multiple times, killing him. Sterling was unarmed at the time. The shooter has been charged with murder.
Sterling, like many autistic adults, found it very difficult to get any support. He had been repeatedly bullied at work. When he had a breakdown and police were called, they did not respond to the call until after he had been shot.
Editor’s note: Autistic people are, of course, neither angels nor demons; we are no more prone to violence than the average person. Sterling’s behavior should not be condoned–but neither did it deserve death, especially since the man who shot him could see Sterling’s wife was safe in the car, knew the police were on their way, and knew Sterling was unarmed. Sterling, having consumed alcohol and in the middle of an autistic meltdown, would very likely have responded well to being left alone and allowed to calm down on his own.