Friday, September 24, 2004

Dispatch from Planet Lockdown

This morning I headed down to the Children's Museum to pick up some stuff for the contract work I'll be doing for them in the next few months. As long as I was there, I took time to go visit my dad's ship model and the new Dinosphere exhibit; I stayed through the 20 minute "weather cycle" of the exhibit, then headed home. Passed a surprising # of police cars, and noticed that two news helicopters seemed to be circling the area above my neighborhood. "Great," think I, "something's up." Between the Children's Museum at 30th St., and my place almost due north at 54th, I passed about 8 cops, the last one being on one of the two bridges into my neighborhood. This was alarming enough--cop cars at each intersection for over a mile?--but was made more alarming by the fact that the cop was standing outside of his car, and was holding an assault rifle.

Apparently, at almost the precise moment when I was crossing Boulevard on 52nd, en route to the museum, a dude suspected of being a car burglar was being detained by one of the Butler University cops outside Hinkle Fieldhouse (at 49th and Boulevard.) Not wanting to be detained, the dude grabbed the officer's gun and shot him in the head. Had I had my window down, I would probably have heard the shot. Had I followed my usual pattern of going down Boulevard rather than Capitol to get to 30th St., I might well have witnessed the incident, or possibly would have seen the gentleman in question fleeing the scene into the neighborhood south of mine. By the time I came back north an hour later, the police had spread a dragnet (which I unwittingly drove through) around the area. They were even checking the trunks of people's cars as they came out of Rocky Ripple. I spent about 2 hours indoors, watching the local breaking news on TV (and hooray for our local station who blurted out the name of the fallen officer mere moments before the police official announced that he was in fact dead, and that they were witholding his ID pending notification of kin. Nice going, you jerks.) I turned it off when I saw the 4 second clip of the officer's ambulance arriving at the hospital for the 12th time.... and sure enough, I knew when the manhunt was over without benefit of TV because 2 unmarked cars went tearing down my street, lights blazing, and both cop cars left the bridges in a hurry. The gentleman with the gun had been flushed out of someone's backyard about a mile south of me, and the police gunned him down while every other cop within a 2 mile radius sped to the scene. I'm no doctor, but in the helicopter view of that scene, the guy looked pretty dead. So with that, the lockdown was lifted, and we could go about our business. I was free to go to the bank, and pick up my dry cleaning, and think about the fact that this beautiful fall day just became the worst day of numerous people's entire life. That's true every day, of course.... but it usually doesn't happen in my literal back yard.