Writing this post brings me no joy but I promised a reader I would post about what I witnessed almost exactly a year ago. I never in my wildest dreams or rather nightmares thought I’d see someone shot in front of my eyes. It was the dead of summer on a beautiful evening. I had a buddy crashing at my house, and on nice evenings like this we would often drink a few beers on the porch. On this particular evening many of my neighbors had same idea. The wind was gently swaying the trees, keeping the mosquitos away and the evening cool. It was truly delightful.
Bang, pop, Bang, Bang, pop, pop! The calmness is instantly shattered. Time freezes. You can imagine Martin Scorsese artfully filming this scene. As I, unfortunately, had heard gun shots before I immediately jumped up. My buddy however, was unclear and starting looking around. We didn’t see the shooter but the victim is lying face down bleeding. I scream at my friend, get in the house! Get in the house! My hands fumble reaching for my phone, shaking a little bit as I call 911. When the operator answers I can barely speak, finally mumbling “multiple shots, er gunfire, er multiple shots er I think someone’s been shot.” The operator calmly tells me that the police are on their way. I should say that this shooting took place approximately 20 feet from where I was casually sipping a beer.
Sure, enough the cops arrived in minutes. The ambulance then arrived soon after. All the neighbors pour out of their houses to see what has happened. I’m still breathing irregularly but I start to regain my composure. It seems as though the victim is still alive as he is loaded on to the gurney. Yellow Police tape has blocked off most of the street. Cops are looking for shell casings. I quickly finish my beer and pour a whiskey for my friend and a scotch for me.
It turns out that the shooter calmly walked up to the porch on the corner across the street from me and fired straight at a group of men hanging out. Then he apparently calmly walked away and got into a waiting car a few blocks away. As far as I know he was never caught. But what happens next is just as alarming. As the yellow police tape has blocked the scene people begin congregating around it like it is a velvet rope corralling folks before they head into a club. Well, the guy who was on the porch with the victim is visibly shaken and he is pacing up and down like a tiger. Some other neighbors I had never seen before come up from down the block and are talking about how upset they are that “they are shooting up our boys”. And by “our boys” they mean our drug dealers.
I am told by another neighbor that the dealers have sent an “enforcer” to make sure nobody talks to the cops. And I didn’t see anyone talking to the cops. Presumably the cops knew this because I didn’t even see them making an effort to talk to people except for those who were standing next to the victim. Later the next day they would come to our doors to ask if we had seen anything. Unfortunately, it was so dark and it happened so quick, I was unable to provide any info. But it appears that there was some definite intimidation going on for those who had info. This was by far the scariest evening of my life.
And I was very sure that I was going to sell my house the next day. It took weeks for me to totally calm down. Was this normal? I decided since it was a “targeted” shooting, I was basically safe if a little shaken up. Of course if those on the porch had returned fire I very easily could have got caught in the crossfire and that is a terrifying thought. But I weighed everything that I love about Petworth vs what I had witnessed and I decided to stick it out. So far my decision has been a good one. I haven’t come close to witnessing anything remotely similar to what I had seen that evening. I concluded that getting hit by a bus was far more likely and last I checked there are buses in every neighborhood.