An eerie stillness grips the Colorado countryside, where at approximately 9:18 a.m. this date (Mountain Time), a high-risk foreclosure eviction turned deadly … for everyone … including homeowner Martin Wirth. Why the 81-year-old Bailey resident who had been fighting his foreclosure for years decided to do what he did can never be answered because Wirth died in the exchange of gunfire with Park County, Colorado Sheriff’s Deputies. It prompted me to write this piece because some of the COTA Workshop attendees and forensic examiners I know knew Martin Wirth. We can only assume that because millions of American homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure that feelings about what happened today are going to be mixed. Many of those millions of homeowners needed no prodding to leave their residences. They did not understand the legal system. All they knew was that legal proceedings were being mounted against them and that there was no hope. They simply walked away from their homes, whether the banks legally owned them or not. I can point a finger at those folks and declare that this is not responsible American homeownership. But let’s face it, plain and simple, if you don’t have the money to fight and you can barely keep food on the table and keep the lights on, you do what you have to do.
On the other hand, those who did understand and attempt to comprehend what was happening to them became angry when it appeared that the banks refused to work with them in modifying their mortgages. Eventually, many of them would come to understand that the banks only wanted one thing: their homes. Loan modifications only work when you’re entitled to actually negotiate them. If you can’t prove you own the loan, you have no right to negotiate anything; however, desperate homeowners entered into these traps and became victims of these unscrupulous mortgage loan servicers, who the United States government and the several states are taking to task monetarily for their abuses. These repeated scenarios however did not stop today’s events from unfolding.
Because of the lack of trust in the government and in “the system”, many Americans, especially the suburban and rural folk, don’t trust anyone, including attorneys who at least understand legal procedure. It was apparent from one of the last emails received by one of the COTA Workshop attendees, Lance Cassino, directly from Martin Wirth himself, that he was confused about how he was going to proceed in his case. Martin Wirth was a member of Occupy Homes and represented the antithesis of what the banks stand for, (as evidenced by this complex email) and was “trying to rally the troops”:
It is apparent that Martin Wirth intended to fight this foreclosure action to its finality. Others who knew him knew what he stood for. He was critical of the Colorado justice system. He wanted justice. He must have felt that he didn’t get the justice he rightfully deserved. In the end, he too was a victim.
So was a 12-year veteran of the Park County Sheriff’s Department. Another officer lies in a Lakewood, Colorado hospital in critical condition. Another officer was grazed in the ear by a flying round and was treated and released. They were victims too. They were simply doing their jobs, following the directives of a judge … a judge it appears that Martin Wirth had appeared before pro se and probably didn’t have much respect for. Let’s face it … not many of us respect the judges ruling in foreclosure cases these days and many Americans frankly, are pissed off.
The snow covered the vehicles in Wirth’s driveway. Eight deputies had no idea what they would be confronting in attempting to launch a lone resident into the cold chill of the Colorado mountain air. I surmise that anyone who had nothing else to live for was not going to “go gentle into that good night”. It is hard to comprehend what was going through Martin Wirth’s mind at the time he went for his rifle, but in that split second, his decision changed the lives of many people and polarized a community, many of whom represent both sides of this political equation. For every neighbor that called Wirth a crackpot, others in the foreclosure movement will think of Wirth as a hero for justice, while others will look upon this tragic act with sadness, yet demand an investigation into WHY Wirth made the decision he did.
If you want to find out what drove Wirth to kill a sheriff’s deputy, look at his foreclosure case. If authorities really want to know the truth, look at the documents being propounded by the banks against Wirth’s property in an effort to take his home away from him, whether they legally owned it or not. It was still a question for the courts and Wirth must have known the deck was stacked against him.
Again, I say, you render a man with a gun into a position of destitution, someone is going to pay a price. Others have preceded Wirth in end, either by their own hand or suicide by cop, and I have a distinct feeling that this type of behavior will not end any time soon because Americans have not seen the United States government bring forward any real prosecution of anyone who was responsible for trashing this country financially in 2008. We all know that the DOJ put out a press release and to date, it appears to be nothing but blowing smoke up our keisters to “appease the peasants”. After all, it’s an election year. After all, since a weapon killed an undeserving deputy who was only doing his job, the White House and its affiliated politicos are going to start up the gun control diatribe again and make it all about Second Amendment rights. The government will spin this against Wirth. I see it coming and so do you. This is what the government does when someone makes a statement. They demonize them. They get neighbors to go on television and call the victim a crackpot and a right-wing nut job. The government plays the media like a fiddle because as you know, “If it bleeds, it leads!”
I say if the authorities and this government want to really get a handle on this, they will take up the case that led to Wirth’s actions and fully vet it. They will interview everyone who touched and/or created every document; otherwise, how are they going to be able to profile Wirth? How are they going to understand WHY Wirth believed what he did about fraudulent foreclosures and an uncaring system unless they take a closer look at Wirth’s foreclosure case? I can almost certainly guarantee you that they will take Wirth’s case file and bury it so deep no one will ever find it. No one will ask questions … and dead men tell no tales.
Is this the tenor of what is to come in America?
My heart goes out to the families of those killed and injured in today’s eviction proceedings. Eviction is not funny. Eviction is traumatic. Next to death and divorce, being evicted from one’s home, especially out into the cold with nowhere else to go would leave many wondering whether Wirth knew it was his time. He had to make a statement. He had to go out with a bang! That, he did.
The courts in this country need to understand that every decision a foreclosure judge makes may end up in tragedy in more ways than one. Sure, we can all identify that judge’s think if they rule against the banks, their own political asses will be in jeopardy. But there is more to this than meets the eye to the naked stranger encountering entering the world of homeownership for the first time. Who would have suspected that the level of document manufacturing would have risen to the level that it has? Who would have thought that the servicers would simply choose to just pay the government in the 2012 settlement for robosigning … and then it’s just back to business as usual. This is my gripe against the system too. This is not blind justice anymore. It can’t be when you have to send eight armed deputies to someone’s home because they believe the homeowner might “go postal”. You can surmise that the “system” is fully aware of the possibilities and that they “gear up” for this sort of thing. Maybe then again, we put too much emphasis in what Hollywood has put out there for us to digest.
Whatever the case, losing one’s home is not worth losing one’s life. And it is certainly not worth taking the life of another. This is why I’ve always said that advance planning for a disaster will save lives, especially when you’ve finally come to realize that you can’t make your mortgage payments any longer because you’ve come to the realization that you’ve “bit off more than you could chew”. Then again, we live in the “Age of Entitlement”. Much of America has been conditioned to believe that it is entitled to “free services, free handouts, welfare, social security” … it has come to depend on it, sucking off the teat of the government. And to that end, we give up so much of our privacy … there’s no being left alone. We must first face our own demons and our own truths before exacting revenge on those undeserving of it.
And on this day, Martin Wirth was all alone, with his thoughts. At 9:15 a.m. we all understood Martin Wirth’s objectives, loud and clear. The court judge sent the deputies to do their job. The deputies had their objectives too. Now they will bury one of their own. The system again, has failed everyone. In time, history (and those responsible for preserving it) will bury this in its annals. Martin Wirth is dead. A deputy is dead. Another deputy will probably be scarred for life. Another deputy nearly became a casualty. And the judge that sent them there continues to sit in his cushy little position, unscathed and unaffected by his decision. The banks that brought what Wirth claimed was a wrongful foreclosure case continue to proliferate their suspect frauds throughout the court systems across America, unchecked, until another Martin Wirth rears his ugly head and says, “Enough!”