One thing to be said for Los Angeles – it certainly has more interesting news than most places. There was that week back in October when a one-third of the city’s work force went on strike, a ring of fire was burning through suburbs, hail was flooding Watts, hot dusty winds were knocking over trees in Woodland Hills and Arnold had just been elected governor. OK maybe that was a particularly tumultuous week, but most newspaper days have at least a car chase or a riot of some kind or another.
This week the news hit close to home. To summarize as briefly as possible, at about 7:30 Wednesday morning a cop approached two guys at PCH and Beryl, about 4 blocks from our house. It was a routine call, at least until one of the guys turned around and shot at the cop with a handgun, hitting him in the stomach and then running off. The cop was OK – the bullet just hit a love handle or something – but he went to the hospital and the guys went off hiding.
Needless to say, a massive manhunt ensued. LAPD officers (or RBPD officers in this case) do not like being shot, and have a tendency to react strongly when they are. So they blocked off nearly every street within a 2-mile radius of our house. I was sort of wondering why it was taking so long to get anywhere. Nothing happened for most of the day, until Irvine Sarah was coming down to see me and was annoyed by having her route at 190th and Prairie (about a mile from our house) blocked. The reason for this, as we later discovered, was not just because of the usual dragnet - it was because about five minutes before she got there, they found one of the guys. And shot him. Many times. I guess the guy (the one who’d done the shooting) had been holed up in a mobile home all day, until he finally got bored and stole a pickup truck and tried to leave town. The cops spotted him, and when the guy got stuck in traffic he got out and ran for it. The cops ran after, and the guy turned around again and started shooting. He apparently makes a habit of this. Only this time the cops fired back, and the guy caught about thirty seconds of solid fire before falling neatly into a chalk outline.
Not that I’ve never been near an area where somebody’s been killed before, but there was something distinctly LA about all of this. Especially the part where the guy shot at a cop for no reason, in possibly one of the most laid-back areas of the city. And the part where his mobile-home hostage-taking efforts did not seem to be yielding enough excitement so he decided to leave and go find people to have a shoot-out with. And the part where his accomplice is still on the loose. Sarah insists that we can now brag about having a “Serial Murderer” on the loose in our area, despite the fact that he is neither a murderer not serial about it, since he didn’t shoot the cop, the cop didn’t die, and it only happened once. Just the same, I think I’ll lock our door tonight.