I love the early morning. It’s my time. My quiet time.

Don’t try to reach me after 9 p.m. I am off to the Land of Nod. If God had wanted me to stay up all night, he wouldn’t have allowed humankind to invent the digital video recording device. At 5 a.m., I am usually up and at it — whatever it may be — drinking my morning coffee, reading the newspaper and enjoying the cool of the day. Not to mention the peace and quiet.

We have numerous television sets scattered in and around our house, and as soon as my lovely wife, Lisa, is awake, they all go on. Whether she is in the room or is not in the room, the television is on. And in the morning, they all sound like the teacher on the Charlie Brown television shows. “Wah, wah, wah.” It makes me crazy.

So, I get up early and enjoy a couple or three hours of peace and solitude to start my day.

Now I told you all that to tell you this, as Barbara Knowles used to love for me to say. (I miss Barbara Knowles.)

I was sitting in my favorite chair, alone, Monday morning, working on my computer and enjoying the peaceful morning when my cell phone began to light up like a pinball machine. My son Jackson, Dorsey Hill, and a plethora of people of varying degrees of closeness were texting me. They all had the same message and if they had been military people, they would all have been sending some coded variation of “Whiskey! Tango! Foxtrot!”

All wanted to know, first, if I was OK, second, if I had shot anyone, and third, what in the world was happening to the Rockdale County that has been my home for the past 38 years.

I was clueless. “Do what?” I responded.

“Go online and look at the news!” was the universal response, followed by “home invasion in Rockdale County! People shot! People dead!”

That response, in and of itself, is a sign of the times. They used to would have all told me to turn on the television. But since I didn’t see any news coptors circling overhead, I decided that the incident, whatever it was, wasn’t in my immediate area, and did what they suggested.

First, I was horrified. Then I was sickened and downright sad. Then I began to try to make sense of the story I was reading, but the pieces just didn’t fit. Twenty-four hours later they still don’t.

I’m not sure it was actually a home invasion because the three teenagers who were shot, and ultimately killed, were said to have been trying to rob a person, or people, who were standing out in the yard. At 4 a.m., according to the RCSO.

I don’t know why someone would be standing in their yard at 4 a.m. I don’t know if they were up late or up early. It doesn’t matter, of course. In America we have the right to stand in our yards at whatever time we want to without having to worry about being accosted by teenagers in masks, with guns.

And one report said that there were several witnesses, again causing me to wonder why, unless they were wakened and drawn outside by the commotion. Three teenagers, one set of brothers, who should have been sound asleep in preparation for attending a local high school on Monday morning were, instead, laid out on a local lawn, having reaped what they were trying to sow.

Right here in our once peaceful and idyllic community.

It makes my heart hurt.

This doesn’t sound like a random crime. It may be.

Neighbors who were interviewed insisted that the community where the incident happened was quiet and peaceful. Brian Jenkins, a neighbor who is running for Rockdale County Commission chairman, said that the incident shows that “We need to repurpose some of these vacant buildings and put in some youth prevention programs.”

Yeah. That’s what it shows. No responsibility on the parents or the lack thereof. The community has clearly failed teenagers when they are out trying to mug people at gunpoint in the middle of the night. There is no personal responsibility at all.

Sheriff Eric Levett and his officers seem to be working around the clock in an effort to keep our community safe, and I commend them. They have their work cut out for them because there are more and more and more reports of these incidents popping up every day. Every day.

One is too many.

It’s kind of ironic. I take people on trips around the world and people are always asking me, “Is this place safe? Is that place safe?”

I just look at them and say, “You live in Rockdale County. Any place I can take you is safer than you are at home.”

I wish I were kidding. I do so wish I were kidding.

I don’t know the name of the truck driver who successfully defended his own life Monday morning, but I’m glad the government had yet to take his guns from him.

Darrell Huckaby is an author in

Rockdale County. Email him at dhuck008@gmail.com.