It all seemed too weird, too many police cars as I approached my neighborhood. I turned at my normal street but that intersection was block my a policeman, I could turn but not go strait. Then on my street another cop, I had spoken with him before and knew who he was. I waved, he waved back, but I could tell from his body language he was very tense. I proceed to my house and when I got out of my car I could hear the police on a loud speaker on the block behind my house. I had no idea of the gravity of what was going on, or how our city would change in a single day.
My wife met me at the door and asked if I knew what was going on. I answered “No”, I told her that it was probably someone barricaded themselves in a house over a foreclosure or divorce. No real worry with all these cops around, I said “looks like they have it under control”. I quickly changed my clothes because I had somewhere important to go. To the brewery to meet a friend and get a donation for our JDRF walk.
It had only been a few months since my youngest had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and my friend Richard had offered to buy me a few drafts and give me a big donation for our fundraiser. I worked with Richard for 3 years before he left and went into retirement. I was all too excited to take him up on both offers.
Once again I had to wade through the road blocks and neighbors asking me what was going on. One person said they had seen three kids run through a few back yard and jump fences. I told them of the police on the loud speaker and the streets being blocked. Reassuring them the police had everything under control rather hastily because I was in a hurry. How profoundly wrong I was.
I arrived at the brewery 10 minutes later and Richard had secured a table on the patio. Ahh, yes, Red Rye Ale on a hot day, it tasted real good. Its always nice to meet up with him, our world views are different, but we always discuss issues without bitter dialog. I think we have both learned a lot from each other, and he is one of our biggest supporters of our walk.
After a few minutes I received a text from my wife and she told me the news, and shocking it was. The police had found 7 people dead, all murdered and the suspect was still at large. The victims were from my neighborhood and were found executed in 2 different houses. The police thought the suspect was held up in a house behind our block, but he was not. The shocking details were breaking all over the news.
There was reports of a man who shot at other drivers and police were scouring the city for him. I told Richard that it had to be all related. I had two drafts at that point and Richard had drank 3 (or more) and was ready to go. He offered to stay for one more if I wanted, I decided to take off, the lure of watching the news about the events unfolding was too much of a draw. I dropped off Richard at the bus stop (senior citizens get huge discounts on bus fairs) and then proceeded home. I even got a text from a friend wondering if we (my family) were safe.
As soon as I walk through the door the local TV station was pouring fragmented information with every breath they could take. The on scene news anchor looked to be out of breath, nervous and rattled. Soon the they cut to the traffic cams and showed a car chase. It was such a bizarre sight, it looked like something out of a movie. Many police cars in pursuit the suspect changed lane and drove on the wrong side of the freeway. This was so surreal, this was all happening with in a few mile of my house.
Within a few seconds of driving on the wrong side of the freeway the suspect drove off the road, jumped from his SUV and ran to a house. He took hostages and after a few hour stand off, he took his own life ending the day of tragedy and heartache. Many details came out, who he was and some of the motives. The one detail that puzzled me was the fact he had a child that went to my daughter’s school. I didn’t know him but remembered saying hi. He had a troubled youth and had been in jail a few times. Many that knew him, in two different lights they remembered him. Many will only remember him for the day of July the 8th 2011 and the events he beset on this community.
I will remember the fact that if I had stayed at the brewery for one more draft, I would have been right in the middle of the police chase. I got my donation for our walk, but my time at the brewery was cut short that day by a series of tragic events. These events started many years ago when a young boy was shuffled though the “system” and was not given the life changing direction needed. I’m not saying intervention would have changed those July 8th events, but we will never know. Intervention is better than none at all in a youth’s life.