Chaos Attraction

Our First Town Shooting, Part One

2019-01-13, 5:45 p.m.

I started my morning off by waking up too early and watching The Rookie, which is about three rookie cops in LA (one of them being 40+ poster boy Nathan Fillion, who gets ragged on for his “late in life” career change and takes it stoically). It was the episode Standoff. At one point his fellow rookie/ex-girlfriend/kinda still fuckbuddying(?) lady friend Lucy Chen both manages to (a) deliver a baby, and (b) get shot full on in the chest in the same episode. But don’t worry, Lucy is fine, she dramatically pulled out that bulletproof panel and wasn’t injured and kept on going. Whew! At the end of the episode, “I delivered a baby and got shot in the same day” was kind of a joke to them, even, given the other shit they had been through (he got attacked by a vengeful dude, Lucy was over after a boink session at the time and both of them have to hide it from work). They clinked their beer bottles together and all was well for now.

Well, that’s television for ya.

I have seen a new improv class being offered in town. Five weeks long but runs on some Wednesdays and some Tuesdays...which I am now working at the CC. Grr, argh. Anyway, because of this I am cramming in a lot of makeup volunteer hours this week since I don’t have much else to do and I want to get this over with ASAP. I signed up for shifts on both weekend days and on this day, Thursday, in addition to my own. Which was cool, Jamie is working on this one so we were hanging out and looking at her new ancient crochet hook collection she got from her grandmother.

Around 7ish p.m. everyone else was horsing around on Facebook or whatever and someone saw a message posted that a shooting had gone on downtown. Stay safe, everyone! this real or a Facebook rumor? I tried looking around on the Internet in various websites and came up with nothing, so I assumed at this point it was a Facebook rumor.

Around 7:30 p.m. Jared (the overall CC manager, who works from 6-9 on night shifts) got a phone call from his boss saying that yes, a shooting had gone on downtown and the CC was now on lockdown. What that translated into in practicality was that we locked the front door but did not actually close and we still manually let people in, but since it was the first week and we usually don’t have classes running until around week three, we didn’t have that many come in. About four people did and we let them in and explained what was going on. I was mostly concerned with suddenly really having to go to the bathroom (why did I chug all that water? why????) since the bathroom is in an outside hallway, and Jared was all “we have a lot of buckets!” Eventually a couple of us just caved and went out to pee and got let back in anyway.

Things finally started to show up online around 7:30, but notably, the WarnMe system did NOT deploy for most people. They posted a screenshot that they had done it on Twitter at 7:30 but most of us apparently did not get any message until 9:45 p.m. Much as I hate checking Twitter, that was as usual these days the only option to check anything any more, though various news websites did put up some short sketchy articles.

What we could find out was that:
(a) There had been a 3-car accident on one of the main long/busy streets downtown, about three blocks from where I live and about right by the train station.
(b) Someone had shot a police officer that was at the scene and she was being taken out to the hospital in Sacramento.
(c) The shooter was still at large and there was a big ol’ manhunt on for him in the downtown area. Shooter was a white guy.
(d) Everyone was being told to “shelter in place” and avoid the downtown area while this was going on.

All things considered, I was not too frightened for myself at the time since I wasn’t home. If not for this whole improv class thing, I would have been home on Thursday night and probably would not have known what was going on at all unless I heard a bunch of police sirens and even then I’m not sure if I would have red flagged that since that is going around lately. I doubt I would have been checking Twitter for funsies. The CC is pretty far back into the campus and I highly doubted a shooter would run this far back to get in here anyway. So at the time I was being pretty optimistic that the cop would survive and that they’d catch the shooter pretty quickly.

Around 7:40 my mother called, because she heard from Roger who heard from his son who was at In-N-Out Burger at the time it went down, and of course Mom was freaking out and called twice and had to be talked down, more or less. Whee. I pointed out that I was probably safer here than at home right now and then she wanted me to get a ride home. This might have been a pretty reasonable idea since we didn’t know how the busses were going to handle the downtown situation and the bus website wasn’t saying anything about that. So Jamie called her dad and arranged for a ride home and we had various debates with everyone else in the building about how they were getting home, who needed a ride, who had lined up some other ride, who wanted to spend the night in the building (managerial privilege.) I think she eventually probably left though.

I was told later by a CC manager who had gone to the gym after her shift that apparently the police seemed to think the gym was a target (it’s on a major street, has a lot of windows) and they really enforced the lockdown over there and did not let people in or out, and were trying to get people away from the windows and put mats over them. I’m a little confused on why they thought the gym was a target since it’s pretty far from downtown. She had a theory that the shooter was planning to head to campus and shoot people except then the accident happened and he decided to take advantage of that instead. Maybe. She thought his backpack was full of magazines but I haven’t seen any confirmation on the contents of the backpack yet.

Jamie’s dad was going to drop me off at home first, BUT...there were a lot of cop cars still in the vicinity. The main drag street the shooting had happened on was very much blocked off. There were cars, fire engines, cop cars, what have you all over the downtown area including areas where nobody is supposed to be parking. After seeing that many cop cars, Jamie and her dad were pretty much, “We’re not dropping you off here right now.” There were cop cars blocking off a lot of streets, I even saw at least one from San Francisco and I was all “geez, that is a long time away and they are getting cops from San Francisco for this?” We had heard rumors that the freeway exits were being blocked off as well, though I didn’t see that personally.

Anyway, we went back to Jamie’s house--not in the downtown region--and I slept on her couch with her cat. The cat was very snuggly.

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