These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

the shooting

my quiet evening at home got turned upside down just after 6 when jim h. called me. he said there had been a shooting earlier in the day in one of the townships. dawn wasn't home so i couldn't get out. but after calling one of the photogs, i taggd along.

jim. h. was going to be satisfied with an eight-inch story, using cop line stuff and what i could possibly get from neighbors. usually it's almost futile to get info. from the neighbors because they want to stay out of it. so on the way there, i asked for a little karma to go my way and wished for the best.

all i knew was a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed in a house by a 17 year old. the older boy was in custody. i knew nothing else.

we arrive and cops are still at the scene, even though it's nearly five hours later. the area is cordoned off with yellow tape. it's dark, cold and a blanket of snow covers every front yard.

one of the patrolman comes up to me as i'm walking up and i identify myself. he asks the lt. in charge (who's back at the office) and the lt. said to call him for whatever info he can provide. i ask if it's Ok to chat with neighbors. he says fine.

so i'm walking around trying to get a feel for the neighborhood. no one's out. most houses are dark with the exception of still put-up christmas lights. one attempt fails and only produces to awaken a dog inside and the security light to turn on. another one, i can't even reach the door because i can't find the way up with all the snow.

i finally get a teen who says he was staying across the street, but he didn't know the boy who was shot. still, i figure it's better than nothing and it's another source, so i might be able to pull off the eigh inches needed.

walking back, the photog says there's a man looking out of a window from a house i had just pointed out. i made my way up the walk and after i knocked, the door was opened.

i was greeted by a young girl, an older man and several large dogs who wanted to lick me. tey were sent away and i explained who i was. i couldn't believe my luck.

it turns out the sister, girlfriend best friend and a cousin of the boy who was shot were in the back room mourning. they said i could go back there and talk to them.

i made my way to what looked like a small indoor porch that was separated from the house bya sliding glass door. i hunkered down and started chatting with them as they cried.

i wasn't so aaffected by it as i was earlier in the week when dennis and i had to attend a memorial type service for a 13 year old who'd died in a car crash. that was really, really tough. but then it had been in the news for a few days and he, his younger sister and father all lost their lives.

here, this was an equally sad situation where a boy had died in a house across the street from where i was talking to his sister and girlfriend. but it was different. i don't know if t was because i was so surprised that i got to talk to relatives of the boy. usually family doesn't want to talk to the media so soon after a death.

i genuinely felt bad for them. i can't imagine losing a sibling through those kinds of circumstances and then having to sit there and talk to a total stranger about what might have happened and what kind of a person my brother was.

i got info and managed to put somewhat of a face to the name by a few details. the hotog made his way inside, tired of waiting out in the cold, i guess, and he managed some poignant shots of the kids huddled together. it made for a better picture for the story than a picture of the exterior of the home where the boy was shot.

and so it was done and we went back to the office and i hashed it out after the lt. called me with more info. that made the story much more solid with the smal, added details from the lt.

rest in peace felipe.


Blogger Leftylog said...

You did a great job! Thanks!

8:22 AM


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