I’ve been sort of sick lately. Nothing major — just some headaches that I hope are not a signal of some growing mass in my brain. But when you don’t feel well, you’re thankful for peaceful good sleep.
Also, I have work in the morning. And when you have to get up to go to a job, you’re thankful for a good night’s sleep.
Both of which are reasons why I’m annoyed to be up with my heart racing due to the familiar sound of gunshots.
We’ve written before about how we were diligent when we moved here about dutifully calling the police after hearing them. We figured that the “time of call” would help the police pinpoint the exact time that the shots were fired, somehow assisting in the ongoing investigation. But the police seemed bored when we called, and it was, after all often 2 in the morning. So we made a note of it the first time we heard them, woke up, and rolled over and went back to sleep. It was like our cynicism deflowering. We were here now, and the gun violence was just part of the landscape — not even worth reporting.
It’s a familiar, if unpredictable routine by now: hear the shots, wait for the sirens, scan the paper the next day to see if it was anything the media discovered. I almost said, “See if it was anything major,” but it’s still major in the lives of the participants, even if it doesn’t make the newspaper.
When the shots wake me up, I still note the time, as if I’ll later have firsthand knowledge to contradict some sort of official report. I’ve decided that I can tell the difference in sizes of guns from the shots. Tonight’s were especially close and sounded closer to the AK end of the spectrum than the clipped bursts of an Uzi. And yes, they sounded fully automatic. Much different than the occasional pistol round.
One thing that made tonight’s shots memorable is it sounded like someone yelled something during the spray. Might have been the shooter yelling something like, “boom.” Might have been a victim crying out. Hard to tell when you’re groggy and it all happens so fast. Anything can get mangled if you replay it in your mind enough times, especially if it’s just a tiny fragment. Within a few minutes, it’s hard to know if there are six shots or seven, and you appreciate the hard work of the justice system (both lawyers and witnesses) trying to piece together little scraps of violence several months (and even years) after they happen. Memories fade, especially if they aren’t written down right away.
And I guess that’s why I’m writing now. We weren’t hit. No holes were punched in the walls or windows. The dog didn’t even wake up. We didn’t call the police. Shots were fired, almost certainly in anger, and the night sprouted a blurry sonic blanket of sirens. It sounds like they might be driving around in circles in the next neighborhood, either chasing a suspect or totally passing by a victim who is leaking life.
Anyway, I’m not sure what we can do. It’d be nice to do an interview with local law enforcement. Our police chief is Kevin Murphy. He is not to be confused with Chris Murphy, who heads our city’s Department of Public Safety. Chief Murphy was hired by Chris Murphy, who used to be the head of the Alabama Department of Public Safety (the state troopers). Our police chief from 2004-2010, Art Baylor, was appointed by Obama to be a federal marshal.
But an interview with local officers and leaders isn’t likely to be all that enlightening. I’ve interviewed cops before. They mostly just talk about how crime is down and how nobody appreciates how hard their job is. Both facts are unarguably true, although the current crime fighting strategy (cramming poor people into unconstitutionally overcrowded prisons) leaves something to be desired.