When the first sounds came over the police radio that there were shots fired, I waited for the usual onslaught of calls that follows a confirmed shooting. It did not take long before the phone rang and more calls followed the initial radio broadcast. "We have a confirmed male shot at ¼" Before the police communication technician completed her statement, I was putting on my gun belt and preparing to go into the streets to where the person was shot. By the time I arrived at the scene there were several bullet casings that lined the normally busy street corner of Ashland Avenue and Fulton Street.
While my officers were securing the area they gave me a brief synopsis of what took place. One aspect of the story stayed on my mind because it was indicative of the cruelty that comes with street life. As the slain male lay in his car, his associates scrambled to reach over his dead body and took whatever evidence of his street trade that may have fallen from his pocket or were secreted in the crash vehicle. Their greed blinded them to the reality that the vehicle was surrounded by live high-voltage wire from the fallen electric pole that brought the speeding vehicle to a halt.
Even without the body in the car seat, it was obvious to me that no one could have survive such a barrage of bullets. The car had bullet holes from several angles and several met their target, the driver. He was removed to the hospital, however, the doctors were unable to save his life.
When I walked into the hospital room to examine the body the first thing that caught my eyes was a long scar that ran down the middle of his chest. I did not need to read a chart or see a toe tag to know who this unique, identifiable scar belong to. Out of respect for the family, I will not mention his name, but I will say that he is no stranger to the readers of this monthly paper.
If you will go back several issues around July of 2003, I wrote about him in my story “Crime Cancer.” In that issue, I detailed visiting him after he was shot in the chest. His life was saved because he was wearing a bullet proofvest. In the vehicle he was driving at the time, was a small caliber gun. He appeared not to have had time to use it prior to being shot.
There was one additional passenger in the vehicle, a young 18-year-old female. She was out with him without her parent’s knowledge. It was her that drove him to the hospital after he was shot. I recall telling her that she had to change her direction or it was only a matter of time before even a bullet proofvest won’t be able to save her love interest.
She sarcastically responded, “Nothing will happen to him. He will be all right because he knows how to take care of himself in the streets”.
She joined the group of family members and friends that rushed to the precinct when word of his death hit the community’s informal communication network. This dark reunion of family members is a similar gathering that often occurs after the streets takes away a mother’s child in this manner. Unfortunately, that display of family unity is often absent when it is time to save the child before the streets swallow them up.
The young female stood in the corner of the precinct and remained quiet. When I walked over to her she may have been expecting me to remind her of her comments that “he would be all right because he knows how to take care of himself on the streets.” Instead, I embraced her and told her that I am sorry for their lost. It was not necessary for me to tell her that he was not all right. We both knew what she did not have to be reminded of, he is dead.