All men aren't equal. Some are awful human beings.

I certainly have my foibles and issues, but hitting women isn't one of them. I definitely wouldn't choke or kill a woman, or anyone.

Like most people, I get angry. If I get angry enough, I keep myself from getting physical by finding something else to focus on, finding something else to do, hanging up or walking away. Even with that much control, I know I can do better.

I'm pretty emotional as I write this, because I'm sick of hearing about losing Louisiana youth to violence.

I didn't sleep through the night after a Plum Orchard house fire left three children dead. I felt worse when I learned that their father, 29-year-old Joseph Washington, was the prime suspect in an arson that likely burned them to death.

Then I felt a new level of disgust when I learned that the children's mother had called 9-1-1 late Tuesday, shortly before midnight, and reported that Washington, her ex-husband, had threatened to kill their kids — and New Orleans firefighters showed up before New Orleans police arrived.

If people thought domestic violence was something inflicted exclusively or nearly always upon women, let this be an awful reminder that domestic violence also impacts children — sometimes in deadly ways.

Shortly after midnight early Wednesday, New Orleans firefighters rushed to the 4900 block of America Street. They pulled an 8-year-old boy and a 3-year-old boy from the burning house. The children apparently had tried to find a way out.

They received CPR and were rushed to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

After the fire had been brought under control, at about 1 a.m., a 5-year-old girl was found on the kitchen floor by the refrigerator, severely burned, covered with ash and soot, police said. She had died on the scene.

Washington is innocent until proven guilty, but Troy McConnell, Washington's father and the children's grandfather, told reporters before cops captured Washington, “If I catch him I’m gonna kill him."

I'm glad he didn't find his son first. This tragedy didn't need to become worse.

I understand McConnell's emotional outburst, though. Killing anyone is bad enough. Killing innocent children is worse. Killing your own children — that's evil.

Unfortunately, police showing up late in response to domestic violence calls seems to be a pattern of late.

Earlier this year, a Times-Picayune analysis showed that NOPD is taking longer to respond to domestic violence calls than any year in the last dozen years. About 10 years ago, the average response time was about an hour. Police data reviewed by the newspaper showed an average response time of 4.5 hours.

That's much too long.

In this case, it took police about 25 minutes to show up. Around that time, the fire had hit "second alarm" status. While 25 minutes is a lot better than 4.5 hours, it was still too long — and, in this case, too late.

Video showed a man leaving the house as the fire erupted. Washington was arrested and charged with three counts of second-degree murder on Wednesday. On Thursday, a Criminal Court magistrate changed each count to first-degree murder. Washington also faces three counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile and one count of aggravated arson.

The lag time in police response prompted New Orleans City Council Vice President Helena Moreno to say the city isn't taking domestic violence seriously.

At City Hall, as she was up for City Council confirmation, new Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said she would take all such cases very seriously. The council voted 6-1 to confirm Kirkpatrick.

Later that afternoon, Kirkpatrick launched an investigation into the NOPD's response and why our community lost three children.

Domestic violence is a long-standing problem in Louisiana. Our state has been ranked fifth in the number of women who die because of domestic violence. We don't want to be No. 1.

October is Domestic Violence Month, and the City Council had already scheduled the city Health Department, the New Orleans Family Justice Center and Arin's Nesting Place for presentations at the council's meeting on Thursday. It was a sobering experience.

Adrienne Winfrey, a domestic violence survivor and founder of Arin's Nesting Place, related how difficult it is for an abused woman to find the strength to tell others.

When women do find that strength, we have to be there for them — and for their children.

And police, 9-1-1 operators, judges and prosecutors have to send a message to abusers — over and over — that we won't stand for it.

Email Will Sutton at, or follow him on Twitter, @willsutton.