Late last night, E and I were sitting in the dining room, playing a computer game, when we heard a series of really loud bangs. I looked at E and I think both of us were doing the mental calculations... were they firecrackers? It's still close to 4th of July. There were so many in succession... it had to be fireworks. But they didn't sound like fireworks. Should we call the police, again? A knot in my stomach grew.
But then I saw people running across the courtyard of the apartment complex, aka the projects, across the street. And the sirens started. After a few minutes, we turned the lights out and went to the window.
A man was down in the street. Not just in the street, 50 feet from our driveway in the street. Neighbors were gathering along the sidewalk. I was amazed at how fast the police and firemen got to the scene. They blocked off each end of the block with cop cars, crime scene tape was strung between the utility poles. Cops were holding back women from running closer.
After what seemed like forever an ambulance arrived on the scene. So many cops, firemen and medics surrounded the man, it was hard to see. But they got him on a stretcher and into the ambulance, which was parked right in front of the house. My heart sank when it didn't immediately drive off. Through the open door I could see the rapid up-down-up-down shoulders of the medic giving CPR. Still the ambulance didn't move, but I could see men working around the injured man. That had to be a good sign, right?
The CSI team started working on the street. They were using chalk to circle things on the street and put up little numbered cards and take photos, just like you see on TV. (Though not one of the three uniformed officers looked like Melina Kanakaredes.) I heard one of them say "There's a bullet over here." Officers started asking neighbors what they had seen. Finally the ambulance took off. We watched the CSI team work a bit longer. E went out to talk with our next door neighbors.
I've been searching the intertubes this morning to see if I can learn more. We did see a camera man filming. So far there's only scant coverage. I don't know which boy it was who we saw. A search on the boy who died, Xavier Gillette, turned up this.
I'm filled with all kinds of emotions. I'm scared that this wonderful house we are in is unsafe and that E and I will get caught in the cross-fire. I'm mournful for my neighbors, for the people in this city, that more violence has led to a needless death. I'm proud of my public safety officers who handled the situation so quickly, professionally, and calmly (yes, I know that's their job, but it's still nice to see it wasn't Keystone Cops out there). I hope that the other boy will be okay, that he will recover and his life won't be scarred forever.
Mostly I have feelings of not understanding. Why was this the best course of action that the shooter felt they had? What were the events leading up to this point? And I feel like we, as a community, let Xavier and the other boy down. What could we have done to help insure this didn't happen? How can we end this cycle of violence?
I know that E and I are probably not targets. But what if next time a stray bullet goes through our window? What if it happens while I'm walking home from the bus stop? But I'm defiant to this line of thinking. Yes, it is a possibility. But I refuse to be held hostage of that fear. I can't limit my life because of something that might happen. I can only go about my life, and do what I can to make this place better and safer.