Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shots Fired, Man Down.

The title of this post is not a metaphor.

I came home after midnight. Early by Saturday night standards. I was still feeling a bit of one of the beers I'd just had with an old friend I hadn't seen since visiting the city in April. I didn't have anything to do until around pm the next day, so I started doing something that I thought would be productive. That quickly devolved into finding ancient video games on my laptop's hard drive, transferred from a computer my parents had when I was in seventh grade, booting it up, turning the sound off, and turning on an audiobook, just like I would do at age 12. Similar to when I was that age, I kept playing just... a bit... more... until it struck me that it was now 2am. I switched the thing off, shuffled around a bit and went to bed, still listening to the audiobook. I switched off the lights at about 3am.

Every once in a while, in Chicago, once in Panama City, a couple times elsewhere, I'd be hanging out with some friends and we hear some sort of loud bang outside. We'd sort of look at each other and one person or other would wonder aloud "was that gunfire?" Usually we'd think it was possible, but it also could have been a firecracker or something.

This night was the first time I heard the noise and was certain I was hearing bullets. About a dozen rounds were fired, somewhere very close to my building by the sound of it. A man yelled something after the firing stopped. The sirens started up almost immediately, got ever so slightly louder over the next twenty or so seconds. They kept on for about a minute. Then nothing.

I woke up the next morning about half an hour before I'd set my alarm, 11 or so. I'm a late riser these days. So when someone rang my apartment's buzzer, my first thought was a rogue couchsurfer. My address obviously isn't publicly available, but I'd agreed to host a couple within the next month. Had one of them decided to show up unannounced, a couple days early? I slowly got up and dressed, and after the second buzz, didn't hear any more buzzing.

But as I rounded the corner, I heard voices outside my door. Very unusual, since my building's hallways are cramped and unheated. I peeked out and saw a man talking to the woman across the hall from me, who was telling him she'd been asleep most of last night. I went back, got shoes and opened my door.

Sure enough, it was a pair of police detectives who wanted to know what I knew about last night. I gave my statement. No, I wasn't sure exactly how many shots were fired, maybe ten or twelve. No, I couldn't make out what the man had yelled. The short man with a tiny mustache and classic felt overcoat took down my name, some notes I could read, and my phone number. He said I'd probably get a call in a few days asking about the voice, so if I could remember anything...

I asked him if he could tell me what had happened. He was a bit evasive. He said it would be all over the news. I expressed a little surprise, and he said it was probably on New York 1 right now. I told him I didn't own a TV. He said someone was shot by a cop. He shot at a cop and then the cop returned fire.

EDIT: Multiple friends and family have since emailed me the news stories found on the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the Wall Street Journal. Sounds like the cops were undercover, pursuing someone they thought might be armed from the way he'd adjusted his waistband. He survived, and is being charged. The police's response is also under review, to see whether use of deadly force was justified (if it's not justified when you're being shot at, I'm not sure when it is).


  1. So let me tell you how nosey I am!! After I read this blog I went right to NY1's website. Besides this random gun activity, how do you like living in E. Harlem?

  2. Sounds like this might be it:

  3. MzKRod- Doesn't seem nosey at all to me! And actually now that I know the full details I actually feel safer around here. I now know that undercover cops are patrolling my neighborhood at 3am on Saturdays.

    Andrew- Thanks, that's it all right. I'll post it with a couple others soon.