this afternoon, as we were moving stuff around the garage where i'm staying, my friend and i heard the tell-tale "POP POP POP POP - POPPOPPOPPOPPOPPOP POPPOPPOP"
phone out, 911 called and reported - multiple shots fired - about a block away off gloria way and bay... two distinct guns... definitely shots... yes, toward bay. name? edrie
"we'll get someone over there right away" THANK you!
more beneath the casings...
we stood for a few minutes to see if any cars came barrelling around the corner - whether or not it would continue as a running gun battle (gangs abound around here).
no cars fleeing - but no one was making a move toward the shooting area, either. not until we heard sirens, knew the cops were on hand and established whether or not it was an ongoing, active shooting or if it was someone simply firing off to celebrate cinco de mayo (not likely - the double set of shots seemed to dispell any thought of celebration).
the first siren - within minutes (THANK you, e.p.a. police dept) - then the second - all stopping close by - within that two block radius. not stopping near the school yard where the cinco de mayo celebration was currently ongoing - closer to university.
more sirens. another. two more. then the sound of the fire engine (paramedics travel in fire trucks around here - first responders - big rig rolling...)
more sirens blasting - another fire truck. and another one.
uh oh. that means the bullets made their target. damn.
THANK you, East Palo Alto Police Dept.
THANK you, Meno Park Police Dept.
THANK you, Palo Alto Police Dept.
more sirens. more officers responding.
okay - the neighbor's sister walked over - came back saying at least three wounded in mcdonalds - MY mcdonalds - i know those kids who work there. they greet me with a smile and my black coffee all the way up to the VERY top every day! was it a robbery? was it a shooting inside the mickey d's? are they okay? WHY would anyone be firing multiple guns on a sunny sunday at 2:45pm in the afternoon of cinco de mayo when so many kids and people would be out enjoying the sunshine?
no marathon explosions - just multiple shots fired... close to home... again.
one siren leaves - must be the ambulance. why aren't others leaving? are the people okay?
the newshound in me kicks in - go inside and call the local stations - ask if they know about the shooting. no. they don't. give address. tell info at hand and tell that it is unconfirmed. they respond BREAKING STORY! to the people in the news room - i hear the urgency in andrew's voice. "we'll call the E.P.A. police dept and get a crew over there! Call us back if you have more info..."
okay - quiet enough now - it is the "mop up" so i head over for more info for andrew... if i can get it.
street blocked off - two officers directing all traffic to turn - no access on bay road between gloria way and university where the mickey d's is on the corner of bay.
yellow tape. police line, do not cross... it strikes me as odd that it is facing the wrong way - have to read it mirror image. folks standing around watching, shaking their heads.
it is a pretty day - this is their front yard where shell casings are left across the street. on the other side, kids are walking down to see if they can get any more info - is it someone they know? is anyone dead? how many shot? inside or outside the mcdonalds? everyone is worried. the older neighbors, the priest, the single woman wondering how to get home through the tape. the neighbors wondering if they can move their cars on the street. the customers in mcdonalds who can't leave.
on the way back down the block, a group of four young men and a young woman stop and point - "there's a bullet casing" - i ask them to stand there to keep it from being disturbed while i told the officer nearby - another cone - another strip of yellow plastic tied to that car the owner wanted to move. not now. it is part of the crime scene.
five people shot, one 20 yr old male seriously injured. a sixth victim, a six year old child, hurt by falling while running away. the victims all at the bus stop when two shooters started firing on a sunny, beautiful day full of happy people waiting for a bus.
fortunately, the other four injured were not life threatening - wounds to the lower extremities. three ran into the mcdonalds to escape the gunfire.
the priest stood shaking his head - talking about how congress failed to pass gun legislation - how the nra was saying crazy things - how upset sen. feinstein was over the rejection of the assault weapon ban - how there is no reason for assault weapons.
the young folk who spotted the bullet casing - one was upset that the officer didn't say "THANK you" to them - so i quickly said, "THANK you" and when they were walking away, one of these young men quietly said "guns should be illegal..."
when the young people under fire in east palo alto say simply that guns should be illegal, the legislators should damn well listen.
when the priest of st. francis of assissi down the block is distressed over the failure of congress to address assault weapons and guns, the legislators should damn well listen.
and, when a community is under seige by a small group, a few people with such disregard for the grandmother and the six year old and the other four people who happen to be waiting for a bus, SOMEBODY should damn well listen.
it's about poverty. it's about anger. it's about guns. it's about hopelessness. it's about many things... and nobody is listening.
and, for the men and women who are out there trying to clean up this disaster in my community, THANK you, East Palo Alto Police; THANK you, Menlo Park Police; THANK you, Palo Alto Police; THANK you to the firefighters and paramedics who are there every time - we appreciate what you do to make our community safer in this suburban war zone.
THIS is why i object to so many of the distorted representations of the police because i see their faces, watch them work to protect those of us caught in the crossfire... and, around here, that happens all too frequently.