Coffee heat rising

Live-Blogging from the Crime Scene

My house is surrounded by yellow tape and there’s about a dozen cops out there. A half-dozen cop vehicles have shut down the neighborhood.

Things are a bit quieter now. They dragged one of the three perps out of my garage, but not until some extravagant drama took place.

Yes. My house is a crime scene.

Along about 5:30 or 6, shortly after M’hijito came by to pick up his spectacular dog, I’m sitting in front of the computer cruising the Internet, looking for real estate. Nice little house in another neighborhood, only a hundred grand more than mine. Hm. Could I find a hundred grand on short notice? Oh well.

This reverie is interrupted by a cop helicopter buzzing the house. Normally I don’t pay much attention, because the cops buzz our neighborhood all the time. It’s that kinda place. But this particular cop copter is behaving pretty frantically. I get up off my duff, walk into the front of the house, and check the various doors to be sure they’re locked. They’re not. I throw the deadbolts and lock the doorknobs. Wander back to the office, where I try to focus on ogling houses in nicer parts of town.

This, however, is not easy. The cop helicopter is practically parked on top of the roof, and when I glance out the window, what do I see but hordes of cops and cruisers out there. A male shape runs up the sidewalk on the east side of the house, but he’s going so fast I don’t get a good look at him before he disappears past the wall. I figure he’s a cop, though.

Oh well. Sit down to the computer. Shortly hear a “CLUNK” outside the east wall and steps that sound sorta like someone walking on the roof. Are the cops on the roof?

No…it dawns on me that someone has jumped the back wall and landed on the brick-and-board shelves I stuck out there to hold pots and garden junk. Cops? Or fugitive?

Pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1 and close the office door and lock the heavy-duty deadbolt on it. While talking to the dispatcher, who quickly realizes none of Phoenix’s Finest are inside my backyard, I pull the Ruger from its hiding place.

DeadboltBefore long, it becomes apparent that the smartest thing I’ve done to this house is to have installed that solid-core door with the hardened deadbolt on my office, wherein reside the only objects of any value I happen to own. At this point, the office is now a safe room.

The dispatcher gets off the phone. A few minutes later she calls back and says that the police are going to come into my house and get me out of it with a “caisson.” She actually says they are in the house. I ask how they could have gotten in through the security doors without making a fair amount of noise.

Well, no, they’re not in the house, but they’re about to be. Forthwith they show up at the front door. She asks me to walk through the house and let them in, leaving the dog locked in the office.

A “caisson,” it develops, is a formation of bullet-proof riot shields. These guys have got three of them, which they sandwich around me. Pistols drawn, they escort me out of the house behind these things.

They park me across the street in front of Pretty Daughter’s house while the drama proceeds.

Three desperadoes, I’m told, are on the loose. They’ve committed a robbery and taken off in an orange vehicle; just up the street they jumped out of the car and ran off on foot. The cops found one guy’s clothes stashed under the shrubbery in my front yard.

They now extract a German shepherd from a cruiser, kick the locked side gate open, and charge into the backyard.

There, who should they meet but…yes! The perp!

He saunters out of the garage, dressed in a T-shirt and (expensive!) white cover-up I’d left hanging by the washer, with my garden hat on his head and my mud-slogging shoes on his feet. (This means, BTW, that he has gone through a garage cabinet, because that’s where the shoes were stashed, and he’s also come close enough to the kitchen door to try to pull it open, because the hat was hanging on a nail right next to the door.)

“Hi, fellas,” says he. “What’s going on?”

He claims to be the gardener, there to trim the trees.

The officers in the yard radio over to their cohort near me to ask if I have a gardener. I ask what their gardener’s name is.


“My gardener’s name is Gerardo. Wrong gardener!”

They now pounce this guy and physically drag him, kicking and fighting, out of my backyard.

They bloody up my shirt in the process. At first they were going to give my hat and the mud-sloggers back, but now they decide to keep them as evidence. In addition to unlawful trespass, they’re charging him with burglary and the theft of the hat, shoes, T-shirt, and overshirt!

Heh heh heh heh…

What can one say?

So now they proceed to wrap my house with yellow crime tape. They’ve already shut down the streets in three directions. The drama shifts toward the baroque.

I get into a conversation with a very charming and attractive middle-aged officer. A widower, he has a five-year-old son born late in life (the father’s life, that is): his wife died three years ago, and he’s on the verge of retirement. He’s been with the police force over 20 years. I’m thinking this is a pretty nice guy and he seems to be thinking about the same and things are going along well until he mentions that his mom just turned 70 and I say… “Gee, you could be my son! I’m almost her age.”

Bad move.

“No! You can’t be!”

“Yup. I’m 67.”

Moment of silence.

“Well. You certainly don’t look your age.”

{sigh} If I’d kept my mouth shut, maybe he’d have concluded that older women make good lovers. 😉

Moving on.

The police officers had to kick their way through the garden gate, which was pretty easy because it was flimsy when it was new and now it’s flimsy and old. To my amazement, they actually repaired it on the spot! It’ll need a little touch-up, but thanks to their extra effort, the gate is latched shut.

They figured the perp had stashed a weapon somewhere, possibly on my premises. So they searched the cabinets and the outdoor shed, without coming across anything. If he ran up an alley at any time while they were pursuing him, he probably dropped his gun in a garbage can. But tomorrow when it’s light I’ll open the garage door and check the place more carefully. All I need is that turkey to come back looking for his pistol.

* * *

La Maya and La Bethulia got wind of this when the neighborhood association sent out a memo explaining what was happening. After the dust settled, they invited me over for a quick dinner and a gin and tonic. I really wasn’t hungry, having had a large meal with Tina over the lunch hour. However, I certainly wasn’t about to turn down the company.

So now it’s quiet here again. The crime scene tape is gone. The perp is probably out of jail by now. The cute cop has gone on his way. Cassie is crapped out on the floor. My father’s pistol is back in its hidey-hole.

I think that fine door deserves a paint job.

Postscript: Turns out the two reasons the cops were in high Swat Team mode were

  1. Matthew and his cohorts had kidnapped three people who were in the pawn shop they robbed at gunpoint; and
  2. A couple of months before this incident, two guys who had stuck up another business and fled with the law in pursuit broke into a house about three or four miles from my house. They murdered the couple who lived there.


Police Helicopter. Matthew Field. GNU Free Documentation License.
Schlage hardened deadbolt. Mine.
Taped-off crime scene. U.S. Army. Public domain.



27 thoughts on “Live-Blogging from the Crime Scene”

  1. One of my neighbors was robbed (this was when I lived in Houston) and she found a skanky shirt left by the perp. He had taken one of her nice shirts too.

    Soooo scary.

    • They must learn to do that while they’re in prison, or from their gang-banger mentors. Obviously, if you knock over a store, the vics are going to describe your clothes to the cops. So the reasonable thing to do is to shed the shirt and hat, and then, if you can, grab any sort of shirt you can find as a substitute.

      Too bad I hadn’t left my lace-trimmed pink things out there. The cops would have loved that!

  2. Now THAT’s why I read this blog, for the gritty hard-core crime stories! Hard-boiled perps, patrol car romance, and gunplay!

    I’m glad things are OK but the writing’s on the wall, you gotta get outta that neighborhood, maybe someplace more peaceful. Like east Oakland. 🙂

    • fifty-seven 57 fifty-seven 57 fifty-seven…got it!

      Well. It was dusk while this conversation was taking place. Afraid once he saw me by light of day, he’d probably have tumbled to the truth. 😀

  3. Best blog today!! But seriously, you keep saying you’re in the “good” part of town. Can’t be. Learn to love the suburbs.

    And yes, don’t bring up age. 😉

    • @ E. Murphy: Interestingly, the cops remarked that this kind of thing goes on all over the city, all the time. They opined that there is no “good” part of town when it comes to random crime.

      On the other hand, some parts of this city don’t have pawn shops up the street. But I suppose they do have nice jewelry stores sitting there for the taking.

  4. Same thing happened to my folks…bad guy running from the cops jumped the fence and hid in their backyard…cops came, found him, and hauled him off…peace and order restored.

    Next day my Dad is in the backyard and sees a gun in the bushes. He takes it into the house to show my Mom who tells him to take it back outside and call the cops.

    My Dad tells her to chill out…he was in the Army, after all and knows how to handle a gun, he adds. He examines the gun with confidence..BOOM! It went off and the bullet goes right by my Mom and lodges into the dish cabinet in the dining room.

    My Mother, to her dying day, refuesd to fix that hole as proof when she would tell the story. My Dad never lived it down! They have both passed now.

    My Mom and Dad were married in 1935. When my Dad died he had been married to my Mom for 72 years. My Mom once told my Dad, in my company and when they were both in their 80’s, “All my widowed freinds are very happy…”

    Careful if you find a gun, that’s all I’m saying.

  5. I kept waiting for … And then Cassie woke me up! Congratulations on installing the solid door and bolt lock and having your gun handy! How long ago did you do that and what made you do so? (I love your blog! Wish some of your tales were fiction though!)

    • @ Sandra J: 😀 No one could make this stuff up!

      Installed the door and fancy lock in the spring of 2009, while I still had a job. It was one of several small but moderately pricey things I wanted to do to the house before my job ran out that winter (my dean gave me over 9 months’ notice that they were closing down our office). Actually, the idea was to keep burglars out, not to keep me in. But it seems to have worked, one way or the other.

  6. @ eemusings: Ain’t it the truth! But it’s just life in the big city around here.

    One thing I neglected to mention in this story is the reason the cops were running at such a high pitch over these three sh!theads. A couple of weeks ago an almost identical scenario occurred: two guys robbed some shop and took off, pursued by the police. They broke into a house about two miles from here, and they killed the couple who lived there.

    So it appears I was very lucky that the commotion outside stirred me to get up and lock the door between the kitchen and the garage.

    About 10 p.m. last night the city’s “victim’s rights” office called to inform me that somebody paid the guy’s bail yesterday. He’s out on the street again.

  7. SO glad you’re OK! I worry about that sort of thing, especially as I live by myself for parts of the year when the boy is gone to visit his father. Have been thinking about buying a pistol, and I think this is the extra motivation I need!

    • @ Budget Glamorous: Be sure to get professional training in how to use it, and make it a point to get plenty of practice.

      The problem with owning a gun (besides the obvious one of potential theft) is that without military training most people will not easily shoot another person, even if that person is advancing on them. The natural response is to pause ever so slightly. Even a second or two of hesitation is all a perp needs to grab the gun out of your hand and use it on you.

      I’ve always relied on my wits. And really — I didn’t need the gun. I was locked behind a door the guy was unlikely to get through, and the place was alive with cops.

  8. Holy crap. I’m so glad you tumbled to the noises in time to move yourself to the safe room and call the police before he rifled through more than just your garage and kitchen door.

    Ever so grateful you are ok and all is well now (with a functioning gate again!)

  9. Glad you are safe! You have to give a little bit of credit to that perp, to try and get away with it like that with your stuff on lol

    • @ Evan: Yeah…once you’ve become so jaded that this stuff feels to you like business as usual, his antics seem pretty funny!

      Wouldn’t have been funny (for me) if he’d either gotten in the house or (for him) tried to come through the locked door to my office. But he didn’t, in either event.

      Heh. I was prepared to shoot him. How odd, to feel like I just don’t give a damn one way or the other. None of it seems to matter very much.

      Old age gives you a whole new perspective on life & death. 😉

  10. That must have given you a couple more gray hairs for sure.

    Most people get a hand gun for home protection but when some one busts thru your back door and you grab the gun, your heat beat doubles and you are shaking like a wet chihuahua. If you pull the trigger you are lucky at that point if you can hit the broadside of a barn.

    The best home defense weapon is a 12 gauge with buckshot.
    Just racking it up may have the perp drop a dookie in his pants.
    Aim for body mass. If you are close the buckshot will find it’s target.

    So lucky you had a safe room to lock your self into. Good job on that.
    Shot gun? I recommend a Remington 870, get one with a pistol grip if you think you need more than that Ruger.

    Another poster mentioned that a perp could take your handgun away from you if you were in a deer in head lights mode.

    That is true if the perp get’s in an arms length of you. That was taught to me in the NAVY when in CQB and then again in Taekwondo.

    If you are holding a shotgun, the perp has to grab the barrel and his fingerprints will be there after you pull the trigger.

    • Exactly right, George! Most people need military training (or police training) to stay in control of themselves and their weapons in a threatening situation.

      That is why a shotgun is likely to be more effective for the ordinary happy homeowner than a pistol: a shotgun can do a lot more damage with a lot weaker aim. On the other hand, a shotgun raises your risk of harming an innocent person, too, especially if you’re the panicky type. Most women are socialized to be panicky, and that’s why I think encouraging women to own shotguns is problematic, unless the woman is willing to take some really good training in self-defense, understand the laws about gun use, and practice with targets and in at-home (unloaded!) drills.

      The damnedest thing has happened to me as I’ve reached old age: not very much scares me anymore. Fifteen years ago, I’d have been scared sh!tless, and I probably would have gone out the window and run toward the cops. The weird reaction I had was exactly the same as the way I reacted the time the guy set off the alarm when he tried to come in the side door at 4:00 a.m.: nothing. In that case, the strongest emotion I felt was curiosity. In the most recent event, I’d say I felt…just strangely calm.

      My hands were not shaking. My heart was not palpitating. I was prepared to shoot anyone who tried to come through the door, and I had a good idea of exactly where to aim. And that’s what I told the cops. They knew I was armed — I told the dispatcher and made it clear I was not interested in shooting any police officers — and they were very, very careful in their strategy to get us together.

      Don’t know where this weird calm has come from. Maybe I’ve become inured to all the Happenings around here. Or maybe it’s just that I’m nearing the end of my life anyway and I don’t give a damn. Die today, die tomorrow: WGAS?

  11. *Very* glad to hear that all went well, FaM.
    Good thing the perp didn’t think about kicking down doors. Even he might have well ended up horizontal or at the minimum severely inconvenienced, nobody needs that extra legal and emotional hassle.
    Agree with George on the shotgun being better than and a handgun, and agree with you that it wouldn’t do most inexperienced persons (male or female) much good without a little training and/or practice. Even racking a slide and managing the slide release and the safety under pressure could be problematic. Mrs. 101 guards the nest when I’m away with a S&W .38, but dislikes the 12-gauge pump. Too complicated.
    And, disagree on the idea that the mere sound of the shotgun slide being racked making intruders pee their pants and flee. I don’t think that hypothesis has ever been scientifically tested, nor would I bet our lives on it. What if your intruder is hard of hearing, or momentarily hearing impaired from the sound blast of previous gunshots?

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