It’s not just a park anymore

The shooting occurred beyond that fence. The young man who ran for his life fell at the end of the fence, just short of possible safety. The little memorial (not shown) is just this side of the end of the fence.

This weekend I found out I wasn’t as “over” our neighborhood shooting as I thought. Two days ago, for the first time in quite a while, I took my dog for a walk, and our usual route goes right through the shooting scene.

Rounding the curve, the first thing I noticed was the house there, that had just been put on the market, no longer had a sign in the yard. It would be nice if the owners really sold the house that fast, but I’m concerned they may have taken it off the market for a while until people forget about the shooting.

Just a little farther around the curve, I noticed an irregular stain on the sidewalk that could have been anything, including an old bloodstain. True, it rained the night after the shooting, but maybe not that hard. And the stain was on a direct line from where the victims’ car had been parked to the fence corner they’d been trying to reach for cover.

Then, just around that fence corner, I found a tiny little memorial. A half-deflated silver helium balloon, heart-shaped and emblazoned “Love,” was nodding in the breeze and flanking it, against the fence, were several votive candles. A young man I didn’t know died there while trying to escape a drive-by shooter. There, not 50 yards from my house, where I pass every time I go for a walk. There, at the corner of our little neighborhood park and playground. I paused for a long moment, trying to make sense of my mixed emotions, and made a silent promise to leave a little something the next time I passed.

Today I was off on an errand and passed that reminder again. A few blocks farther on, I passed a car stopped at a stop sign, waiting to pull in behind me. It looked like a black Jeep Commander, the same kind of car the shooters were reportedly driving. Unhappy coincidence, I thought.

But it pulled in behind me and I couldn’t forget about it. When I turned onto the main drag, it turned the same way, first behind me then beside me. Not black, I noticed, but very dark gray. And new. It still had the dealer’s temporary tag on it. Nice ride. One any thieves would love to have stolen (the shooters’ Jeep was the second vehicle they stole that night). I even scanned it for bullet holes, although the victims had been unarmed. A mile on down the road, the Jeep turned left when I turned left. I had just driven two miles thinking more about it than about my driving. Not good. I was relieved when I reached my destination and the Jeep kept going.

But hey, the shooting was way back on September 10th. I’m over it.

10 thoughts on “It’s not just a park anymore

  1. I think we all live in a sort of cocoon of sameness, especially middle-class people, so it can be jarring when an unusual experience happens. The other day a 30’s-something man approached me in a Walmart parking lot. He was reasonably well dressed, but unshaven, and he was missing most of his front teeth. He was missing one leg below the knee. After noticing my USN vanity plates he told me he was a veteran of Desert Storm. Then, he said he needed $25 to fix a tire, couldn’t get help from any source (naming the VA and the usual charity organizations in town. I was skeptical of course but he continued to press me. I was overcome with pity for his wretched physical condition. I grew up with income insecurity and can well imagine a desperation such as he described, so I gave him the money. I now wish I hadn’t. It occurs to me that his dental condition was probably due to meth abuse. But that other world intruded on my consciousness and popped my bubble, if only briefly. In a nation of 320 million people, probably anything you can imagine is happening somewhere right now.

    1. And if you hadn’t given him the money, what would have happened? Maybe nothing in a busy Walmart parking lot. But these days you just never know. We had a shooting at a Walmart a few miles from here. And there was that one in El Paso. What is it about Walmarts, anyway?

  2. That feeling of safety and innocence gone. Tragic
    Walmarts are crime magnets – in this state anyway. One near your home, lowers property values.
    Most crime here is transported by those in stolen cars/pickups – with plates removed, paper plates, or “what the heck? It’s stolen so what does it matter.” (Why do I feel I should have defensive forward and rear facing cameras installed in my cars, car kill switches that can be activated long distance by phone in case of theft – almost to that point. ,Those may become “standard” soon?)
    The rough dangerous world intruded here some 25-30 years ago – no neighborhood safe. I guess we were just ahead of the curve. Rise of the Super Predator youths ( predicted back in late 80’s – I’ll have to dig out the primary source reference, but it has happened), break down of society’s members agreeing follow the laws, not respecting human lives or any live thing – once there was an agreement among thieves/criminals that the very young, the elderly, and churches were hands off. Not any more. No one seems safe. Even little kids playing in the front yard or asleep in the front room, of their homes where bullets can encounter them first when gangs are retaliating against older family members
    Judges and the courts are not keeping us safe – letting the criminals out to reoffend even before tried for the first murder, assault, rape.
    Your way of moving through life totally changes. This is totally nuts.
    Hang in there.

    1. At least the Walmart shooting here was at one 5 miles away (there’s a new one now about 1.5 miles away). But I’ve always been wary of Walmarts because of the way they do business and the people they seem to attract.

      I’ve always lived way out the sleepy suburbs. And trouble, if it happened, was caused by outsiders. But society has become so fractured, you just never know anymore. If you use the NextDoor app, it’s appalling to see what sort of people some of your neighbors are.

      1. I think not major city suburbs have been pretty isolated. We’ve witnessed as the bus lines routes show up (Metro here does a regional control thing) and as major roads are enlarged to handle more traffic / outer loop roads are built…to handle more commuter traffic, then people realize that outside predators can more easily travel into formerly isolate worlds and case it out – and come back later knowing the roads will give them a quick getaway to places they know where to hide/ where they can quickly fence stuff or immediately put it on eBay. (so common – it’s a thieves market place – dangerous to meet up with someone for a transaction here.) Local young people know nothing will happen to them, judges let them out, activists plead “poor baby – it’s society’s fault or he didn’t have guidance in his life”. And certain groups know other groups tend to not want more trouble/retaliation and will stay quiet…a case of criminal bullying.
        We were talking about your incident outside on the patio this morning (they must have sprayed for mosquitoes – tolerable until sun comes up). Husband said that shock is like the first time you walk out to where your car was parked and it’s gone. Total unbelief., Unable to comprehend. Seems like fiction in front of you, but it’s not. Sort of like coming home and finding the back door open and your stuff gone – your safe haven robbed. Can’t believe it. (That was back in the ’70s) That innocence and feeling of “won’t happen here” – that safe feeling never returns.
        We shouldn’t have to live like this.

        1. Living alone, I’ve always been cautious. Doors and windows always locked, etc. It amazes me when someone writes “Well, I guess now I’ll have to lock my doors during the day.” They weren’t before?

          1. Ditto. Cars, too.
            Stunned when neighbor had his car stolen out of his driveway..unlocked, with key under seat? Really? He though he was lucky as his 150 was also unlocked/key available – but it was stick shift and they probably couldn’t drive that one. Even worse, he is a retired (small town) police chief.
            All I can say is Duh.

... and that's my two cents