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crime reporting

February 13, 2010

I live in a city of just over 200,000 people. This city has an above average per capita crime rate.

I’m always up late at night, and on rare occasions I go out to run an errand. I don’t like all the crazy traffic during the day, and don’t much like being around a lot of people, so sometimes I do stuff late at night. Usually, my late night journey has been to Wal Mart, or in the past to Taco Bell once a month before I started eating better. And occasionally I’ve gone to a gas station.

Tonight was the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, so I stayed home to watch, and didn’t leave the house until after Wayne Gretzky lit the torch outside on the streets of Vancouver. It was about 12:30 am by then.

One of my tires has a slow leak,, and I was worried about it going too flat before I could drive to the tire shop the next day or whenever I get around to it. I decided to fill it up, and take it in in a day or two.

The closest gas station is not in the best of neighborhoods, but not terribly bad compared to some in this town, so that’s where I went. This gas station does not have a store, just pumps and a kiosk where the clerk sits behind bullet-proof glass. The air compressor is located at the far end of the station.

I put my quarters in and the noisy machine started up. After a few seconds of filling my tire, I noticed that there was a burglar alarm sounding. I looked around, and because of sound of the air compressor, it was a little hard to tell where the alarm was coming from.

I looked over at the kiosk, and it was dark, except for some flashing lights, and that is where the alarm came from. I thought, oh well, and continued putting air in my tire for a couple minutes. I would have called the cops, but I didn’t have my cell phone with me.

I stopped pumping because I figured the cops would come rolling in. I was guessing that when an alarm goes off, somewhere at the police dept. there is a switchboard that lights up and the police are dispatched. I didn’t want to be there in case they arrived.

So, I went home, took me 2 minutes or so. I decided to call the cops once I got home, thinking it is possible someone could be dead or injured inside the kiosk.

I left my home number with dispatch, but my dad said I should call them back to give my cell number – just in case they called me wanting more info – if they called the house phone, they’d wake up my mom. I gave them my cell.

I cleaned up in the kitchen for a little while, but then went out to another gas station on the same street but in a better area approximately 2 miles away. Before I even put my quarters in the compressor, a guy comes running across the street and asks if I have a cell phone. He didn’t look too scroungy, and I figure I can run after him if I have to, and he actually looked in earnest. He asked me to call 911, and said he’d talk. I just handed him the phone.

He stood right next to me and talked to the emergency operator. He told them he’d just been cutting through an alley a half block down behind a thrift store, and saw a flashlight next to what turned out to be the body of a man with a hole in his head and a lot of blood around him. That got him to take off running.

As soon as he got off the phone and gave it back to me, a cop car was about to ride past. The gas station I was at is on the busiest street in town and lots of patrol cars ride down this street, especially on Friday nights. This guy and I waved the cops over, and they pulled in. I stupidly turned on the air compressor – which made it a bit more difficult to talk. They were aways from me though, so I am guessing the noise didn’t bother them much.

The guy asked if they’d gotten the call and they said no, but after talking with him for several minutes, they headed back the way they came to where the guy said he’d seen the body. By the time those officers got there, other cops and an ambulance were arriving.

I watched for a couple minutes, but, not being the morbid rubbernecking type, decided to go home. I pulled out of the station and waited at the rather long light. More officers arrived, and one of them was blocking off the street. In this city, paramedics from an ambulance service and medics from the fire dept. are both dispatched, and the fire truck was at the intersection I was at. The cops and medics do respond fast in this town when they have to.

I hope the victim survives, but from what the guy who borrowed my phone said, the man  might have already been dead.

I go looking for a gas station with an air-compressor and end up reporting one crime, and my cell phone used to report another.

Some town.

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