10 April 2008


It's been a stressful two weeks, ballistically speaking. Last week a young man fired rounds in Washington Park, then two hours later another man got shot on West 13th Street. On Tuesday the 8th a couple of local businessmen --- youngsters involved in the drug trade --- had a Tombstone, AZ style shootout at 12th and Republic, flanked by the Tender Mercies buildings, and one of the newly rehabbed condo-cum-loft buildings. I was crossing Race at 12th last week when the shots were fired in Washington Park. I quickened my pace but did not run, reckoning that anybody running would attract the shooter's interest. I found defilade by the support column at the entrance to The Lord's Gym. By the time I hid by the column, the 5th or 6th round was expended. The Lord's Gym had a surreal display in their front window. A T-shirt for sale with a graphic that read: CEASEFIRE CINCINNATI 2008. A 7th and 8th round were fired. Sirens keened. Helicopter rotors echoed in the distance. Maybe our gunman realized he was out of ammo, or maybe he was too jumpy to reload an empty clip without fumbling. It was surprising how few people actually attempted to find cover. Many, many bystanders were not only staring in the direction of the shots, but were edging closer, obviously fascinated. They were watching a movie, a tv show, a video game. Miraculously, nobody was hit. Somebody said the shooter was mostly firing into the ground in an apparent effort to frighten or impress a girl. On the 8th, when two guys shot it out at 12th and Republic, there was a similar hypnosis going on. People staring, transfixed, while each shooter emptied his clip. One shooter was hit and staggered off, while the other crouched in the parking lot across from where Republic dead ends into 12th, and reloaded. There was blood on the pavement, and a trail of blooddrops left for police to follow when they arrived minutes later. Parked cars had shattered windows, and pucker marks in doors and fenders where rounds impacted. Several deformed lumps of metal lay in the street, duly marked by police. As the police cordoned the crime scene and searched for cartridges and rounds, the crowd of television viewers grew larger. One man, wearing fluorescent lime green shoes, began shouting about conspiracy, about how the yellow tape was designed to hide "what really happened." "They coverin' up!" he blustered. "Why can't we see? What they hidin'?" This despite the fact the many people around him had stood in morbid fascination to watch the shoot out. There was nothing not to know. The crowd was not buying into the man's police conspiracy theory. The crowd understood the need for yellow tape. After all, they had all watched CSI! Protocol is everything!

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All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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