Miss L and I are back from our trip through Alaska and Canada, but I will have to write about that stuff later on. Instead this is about something that happened on Monday night, right after we got home. As a warning, although not graphic this post is a bit morbid.
I took our dog Echo out for his late night walk around 11 pm, only to find the cross-street half a block down barricaded by police cars and yellow crime scene tape. It was a little hard to see with the police lights blinding me with the alternating red+blue lights, but I could make out the shadowy outlines of people on the other side of the street, craning their necks around so they could figure out what was going on.
I couldn't get through at all, so I decided to walk around the block the other way, discovering the far end of the same street was taped off as well. At the end of the block sat a large vehicle that looked a lot like an armored car, but was really a crime lab on wheels. I saw police officers going in and out of it, carrying equipment, taking photographs and marking several spots on the black pavement with yellow triangle markers. I flagged down an officer and asked what was happening and was told, "Someone was shot and killed. That's all we know so far."
Not knowing if the shooter was still out and about I decided to cut Echo's walk short and head on home.
The next morning I took Echo out again around 9 am. Normally at this time of the day the street is bustling with people walking dogs, getting their kids off to school or heading in to their jobs. But that morning I found the street deserted, like everyone was avoiding the area. I walked through a touch apprehensive myself, knowing that death had landed so close just the night before.
My morbid curiousity got the better of me, so I started looking around a little. I found some small pieces of paper in the gutter, sticky and stained red with blood and still wet from the morning dew. Labeled at the top as an "Incident Report Form", there wasn't much on it aside from the name of the person who called in the shooting to the police.
I walked back across the street and looked down at the area where the yellow triangle evidence markers were. The pavement here was lightly stained with a deep, dirty red color; I could only think it was where the victim bled out.
These two little pieces made everything all too real for me. All the odd little things that happen in our little Baltimore neighborhood---people sleeping in cars, freaks stumbling through the neighborhood drunk, drivers blasting down the narrow roads at twice the speed limit late at night----all suddenly fit into a pattern of danger for me. I've been mugged in D.C., I've seen people loaded into body bags from a distance along Route 1 in Alexandria, Va. and I've even been caught between two rival gangs taking pot shots at each other in Staunton, Va. But this really got to me----I guess because it happened so close to where both my wife and I live and sleep.
Today our apartment community held a meeting of sorts. We found out from a detective that this was not a random incident; the victim was apparently targeted. I'm not sure how or why, the police would not say. Although the victim was living in one of the apartments, he was either subletting or sharing an apartment illegally. This helped a bit, knowing that this wasn't just some random thugs rolling through shooting residents.
There was a lot of talk of adding security cameras, increasing the lighting and even starting a neighborhood watch. I hope some or all of these things take off; I really do like where I live and, in general, feel pretty safe. I hope I continue to feel that way.
Hopefully I'll have happier posts up soon.