March 02, 2006

Just Another Week In the Neighborhood

I come home late on Tuesday night to find Broadway (the sort-of neighborhood main drag that forms one end to our street) blocked off by flares and police cars with flashing lights. Fortunately, the road block begins immediately after our street, so I turn off onto our street like I normally would and park in front of our house. There's a mob of people on our street corner; our street is lined with the cars of people who'd ordinarily park inside the barricaded area. It's late (11 PM), so some people are sleeping in their cars. I rush into the house to say hello to Shelby and the dogs (Shelby was totally oblivious to what was going on outside; there was a lot of helicopter noise, and Digory was barking, but there's nothing new about that), and go back outside to try and figure out what's going on.

All of the action is centered around one house: police cars in the street have their spotlights focused on its front door; a helicopter overhead is circling round and round, shining its light down on the front yard. What appear to be members of the SWAT team are creeping into position around the house, crouching low behind parked cars. Our neighborhood fire station, trapped inside the road block, is veeeeeeery slooooowly wheeling its equipment out of the station and down the street. I can see flashlights lighting up the dark windows of the apartment building next to the besieged house. I ask some of the neighbors/spectators what's happened. "There's a guy inside the house!" "He shot at a cop and ran inside!" "He's got hostages!" "No, no, I saw a lot of people coming out of the house!" "I heard that he killed someone!"

A cop, kneeling behind the open door of his cruiser, lifts a bullhorn to shout at the house: "This is the Anaheim Police Department! We have the house surrounded! Anyone inside 5-- Broadway Street needs to come out of the house NOW with your hands up!" Having watched enough cop shows and action movies to know that this is usually the precursor to the fusillade of gunfire and teargas canisters, I figure that's enough time spent hanging around and decide to go home.

After a while, I don't hear any noise, and the police helicopter that had gone away for a while came back, so I popped outside to find that nothing had changed — depite the announcement, they hadn't rushed the house — although they'd moved the barricades back a little more; drivers now only had one lane left to squeeze onto our street. Bullhorn guy came out and made another tough-sounding pronouncement. I stood with the diehard neighbors for a little while longer, and then went home and went to bed, careful to check that all of the doors were locked.

We woke up Wednesday to find that police didn't rush the house until 6 AM — almost nine hours after the whole thing had started — and, not-so-surprisingly, found the house completely empty. And how did the whole thing start? Apparently an undercover deputy from the LA Sheriff's Department was conducting some kind of investigation in our neighborhood; he got into some kind of altercation with his investigatee, who shot at (but didn't hit) the officer and fled inside the house. The undercover sheriff then called the Anaheim PD for backup, which led to Monday night's drama (and the shooter, I'm sure, was over the back fence in the first five minutes and far, far away before our local PD was even on the scene).

What was an LA Sheriff's deputy doing playing secret-policeman in the middle of Orange County? Why didn't they call Anaheim for backup before going to see the shooter? Why didn't they ask Anaheim PD to investigate in the first place? Who knows.

To compound that what-in-the-hell-is-going-on feeling, while searching the Web for articles on that whole police thing, I find that someone committed suicide on Monday morning by jumping in front of an Amtrak train just a few hundred yards from our house. It sounds like it was quite the hullabaloo of activity — train stopped, emergency response, Broadway closed — but we didn't even notice! Clearly, we really need to get out of the house more often.

Posted by Kevin at March 2, 2006 02:07 PM
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