This incident occurred on Saturday January 12, 2013
Our weather has been like the early days of spring. We went from having six plus inches of snow on the ground and cold temperatures to no snow on the ground and warm sunny days.
I have had to curtail my daily walks because it is pretty dangerous when the sidewalks are covered with snow and a thick layer of ice underneath. Even though people are supposed to clean their walks after a major snow event, it often does not happen.
So a spell of warm weather and a snow free pathway was enough incentive for me to take a walk on Saturday evening.
I reside in a re-gentrified neighborhood. We have nice homes, tree lined streets and the area has evolved from being a haven for crime to a nice eclectic community.
On warm days it is not unusual to see people moving about. Walking their dogs, or heading to the restaurants or small businesses in the area. It is usually pretty congenial and laid back for blocks on end.
I did not have a particular destination in mind. I just wanted to air out my head on a pleasant winter day. And that was happening without any disruption until someone decided that they needed to use their gun for whatever reason.
When the first shot was fired my instincts went from chilled out to survival mode. I did not see the shooter but the sound came from the back of a row of houses. My feet did not stop moving as my eyes scanned the areas in between the houses. I could hear all the instructions my dad had provided over the years blasting in my ears. If the shooter ran in my direction I was prepared to duck or run. Believe me; I was silently praying that this were options that I did not have to use. My cellphone was in my hand and I was prepared to call for help if necessary.
As I moved down the block the air was quiet. The three shots had echoed loudly between the houses and afterwards there was no sound. No return fire, no screams or any of the sounds that often follow shots fired.
When I reached the corner a Columbus Police squad car was coming down Long Street. I was waiting for the car to pass so I could cross the street. Instead of continuing down the block the officer stopped and asked me which way was the gunshots heard?
I pointed to the houses and told him the sound of gunfire had come from the alleyway. He drove down the street and turned into the direction of the alley. As I crossed the street more squad cars came rolling down the block. I decided to duck into a neighborhood store for a moment just in case things got heated up.
Two young brothers came in right behind me. They had seen the officer talking to me and driving the wrong way on a one way street. One of them asked me if the cop was hassling me. I told him that someone had just fired off three shots and the police had been called. For real was the response to my statement.
I only stayed in the store for a few minutes. When I left out the CPD Helicopter was overhead swooping over the rooftops and around in the alleyways. There were also additional squad cars rolling down the block.
By this time all I wanted to do was go back home. My mood had been broken by the sound of gunfire. I had no idea whether someone was lying wounded or dead in the alley. All I wanted to do was get away from that area without encountering any more scary situations.
I saw the police looking around an apartment building parking lot. There were a few residents outside talking to the officers. The shooter was long gone and no one was injured this time.
As I walked back towards my home, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief over what had just happened. I was also giving thanks for nothing happening to me. The what-ifs were trying to push their way into my thoughts and I was determined not to let them.
I have no idea whether or not someone was being shot at or if someone was just shooting as a sign of warning. This is one of the times in life where my personal ignorance of the matter is totally okay with me.
But the incident did manage to piss me off. By the time I got home I was actually angry because my sense of well-being had been disrupted by those three shots.
I am not naïve by a long shot. I know that there is no such thing as a totally safe place. Violence can erupt anyplace and at any time.
Whoever had that gun had managed to disturb me and the people on that block. My walk was supposed to have been an enjoyable experience. Instead it ended up being an experience in urban trauma. A reminder that there are folks who own guns and will use them without any manner of concern about the way their actions affect others. Those shots fired could have become the source of pain and sorrow for someone and their family.
The fact that the shooter was not apprehended makes me feel somewhat uneasy. I know that we have a contentious relationship with law enforcement that spans the nation. The two young brothers who were in the store with me left out and decided to head to the crib instead of continuing on to their original destination just to avoid any potential problems with the officers who were moving about the neighborhood. I know from personal experience that their concern at that moment was valid.
But on the other hand, what if the shooter returns to the same place and decides to fire again? Will there be a victim this time around? Will the peace of the neighborhood be disturbed by the sounds of shots fired followed by the sounds of distress?
I hope not. But that is actually all that I can do is hope that this was a onetime incident.