January 31, 2013

Realizing The Phoenix Shooter Is My Neighbor

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Have you ever had a day when you thought you’d get a lot of things done and, in fact, you didn’t. I had that kind of day on Wednesday. I had such high hopes of crossing off quite a few things from my To-Do list.

That was until the sound of police helicopters became the background noise as I worked from home. How did I know they were police helicopters? Even though we’re a pretty quiet neighborhood, we get our fair share of the street action. Our street is one of the few where you can get across about 10 blocks without going up half a mile to the major street or down about a mile. And it seems that criminals on the run miss their turn off for the major street and then try to weave their way through my neighborhood.

So with helicopters as my background noise I check in to Twitter to see what the news or police are reporting. Hmm, that’s curious, a shooting about 10 miles away but nothing in the area until I see this tweet

Um, that’s where I live. And, um, that’s the neighbor down the street! Everyday I see the man who lives there. He’s an older guy. Seems crazy that the SWAT team is right here by my house. We’re not a bad neighborhood. And what makes you snap and think that shooting anyone is a good idea. The guy’s 70 for goodness sake!

So I do what Mrs. Kravitz would do and make my was down about 100 yards to see what’s going on. As I walk out my house I can see three news trucks, quite a few news vehicles, police cruisers, a few of the unmarked police cars that patrol the area (that’s a story for another day as to how I know these are unmarked police vehicles) and news cameras set up on tripods pointed at the alleged suspect’s house.

All the while I’m searching Twitter and the news to find out what’s going on and how this old man could be connected. Maybe it’s his son they’re after? The police were pretty friendly at first, until all the people from blocks away started to come and look. All I got out of them was that they were waiting for a search warrant because the son wouldn’t let them in and the suspect is not in the home.

Knowing that it takes awhile to get a search warrant, even under circumstances like this, I talked to my neighbor for awhile, took some pictures and basically live-tweeted what I could. Any idea of being private went out the window as I basically have identified where I live. In retrospect, maybe not the best idea. But, it’s out there and I feel safe in my home.

Nearly 12-hours later and the area is still cordoned off. Luckily I was able to get out and get my daughter at school, although I had communicated with her teacher so she was aware there was a situation that could cause delay. And when we got home everything seemed the same as when we left, although there were more news helicopters overhead since the SWAT team was about to enter the home.

When I left again at about 6pm there were more police, and so many more TV crews and tripods set up for the evening news. It made leaving a little more of a challenge. As the story has unfolded I was contacted by several news outlets who saw my tweets. I ended up talking with Newsweek and The Daily Beast to answer a few questions. It appears the man went to a mediation appointment carrying a loaded weapon and shot 3 people,  and injuring several others. He was driving a rented vehicle, so maybe he was planning all of this. And for what? He sued a company which then countersued – all for about $30,000. Definitely not worth all this.

As the night wore on the news helicopters were back for the late news and the red and blue flashing police lights were still visible from my house. One of the men shot has died and the other continues to fight. There are others who were injured at the scene of the shooting.

Here, though, a different kind of experience. Few people ever consider that their neighbor will go to a meeting and kill the people there. That’s stuff movies are made of, not real life in an upper-middle-class neighborhood where neighbors wave to each other, decorate for the holidays, and are generally thought to be good people.

I’m sure we’ll never know the whole story. We know people just snap sometimes. But why? And what about all the people they hurt? We all have problems. But the fact is guns won’t solve those problems. This is not what was meant by the right to bear arms. A man lost his life today, another fights for his and others will carry with them the physical and emotional scars of this man’s actions. An entire neighborhood wonders how it could happen in our sleepy little community.

For now, it’s quiet. The sky is dark and the blue and red lights of the police cruiser light up the yellow police tape. This can’t become the new normal.

Sara

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley January 31, 2013 at 11:07 am

Guns don’t solve problems, but neither does taking them away from people. Blaming guns for this is like blaming your pencil for failing your test. It’s sad that this happened and I feel for victims but why aren’t murders with fists and hammers being spread across the media?

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Sara January 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Ashley, you’re right that guns don’t solve problem. It’s exactly what I said. The argument about blaming guns and taking guns away from people is not what this post is about. Would this man have killed anyone if he hadn’t decided to take a gun with him? It’s pure speculation, but there is a greater likelihood that the injuries and magnitude of this would have been significantly less.

I don’t know why the media doesn’t talk about other methods of murder. What I do know is that my neighbor took a gun with him to a mediation. As a mediator, this scares me.

Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting.

~ Sara

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