Vigilantism is a tricky topic.
On the one hand, the very concept of an everyman rising up against tyranny and evil is deeply woven into the fabric and history of this country.
On the other hand, most (all?) Americans are not Batman — there is no plot armor protecting you while you go about being a vigilante.
And that can lead to tragic stories like this one about “Boopac Shakur” (no familial relation to the deceased rapper of similar name.)
According to the Detroit Free Press, Robert Wayne Lee, who operated a popular Facebook page under the “Boopac Shakur” moniker, was shot and killed after a confrontation with a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old on Friday.
The suspected shooter is the 17-year-old.
Lee, a 40-year-old man from Pontiac, Michigan, or “Boopac Shakur,” had become something of a local online celebrity through his content where he would attempt to catch sexual predators, primarily by posing as a young child in online forums.
Police arrest 2 in killing of ‘Boopac Shakur,’ vigilante who lured alleged sex predators
Robert Wayne Lee, also known as “Boopac Shakur,” who exposed alleged sexual predators online by posing as a minor, was killed in Michigan during a confrontation with two teenagers. The… pic.twitter.com/t7wCGdS9gi
— Emeka Gift Official (@EmekaGift100) October 2, 2023
It was during one of these confrontations where Lee was shot and killed after he accused one of the unnamed suspects of being a pedophile.
Police eventually caught up to the suspects on Saturday in Pontiac, and the case is expected to be handed over to prosecutors shortly.
Lee, meanwhile, was ultimately pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital for the gunshot wound.
This is an obvious tragedy, all around, made all that much worse by the fact that Lee appeared to be attempting to do genuine, altruistic good.
But even genuine, altruistic good can have a downside apart from the tragedy itself.
In a release from the Oakland County Sheriff’s office, per the Free Press, Lee’s good deeds actually ensnared an innocent man — and that’s no small accusation to levy.
“His one-man crusade has led to the arrest and criminal charges being filed against several men,” the release said. “He has also mistakenly identified someone as a sexual predator who was not.”
Sheriff Michael Bouchard also spoke on the incident and tried to dissuade others from engaging in similar acts of vigilantism.
“While we certainly understand his desire to hold child predators accountable, many times well intentioned individuals who engaged in this don’t know the standard of evidence required for convictions and often underestimate the potential for violence confronting a suspected predator,” Bouchard said.
“They feel trapped and often lash out violently. When we have arrested predators in such circumstances, they have rammed police cars and exhibited other violent behavior in attempts to escape.”
And, again, perhaps if you had a Batmobile, criminals ramming their car into you wouldn’t be such a big deal.
But that’s just not the case in the real world, which is what makes vigilantism such a fascinating and dangerous concept.
Again, the honorable and good intentions of vigilantism are apparent: When you feel that the justice system can’t actually provide justice, you take matters into your own hands.
But as the story of Robert Wayne Lee shows here, taking matters into one’s own hands can have disastrous consequences, good intentions and all.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.