Originally Posted on January 2, 2008
What if you woke up one morning and found out that you were just feet away from a major crime scene? How do you feel when you always believed in being safe and secure in your life to know that this may have happened to you?
About two-and-a-half hours into the New Year, this exact scenario happened. Two houses down from where my roommate/landlord and I lived, two men walked up to the door and rang the bell. Apparently, they were casing the neighborhood, looking for a thrill crime. They noticed that four people just entered into the house after a night of reveling.
One of the owners of the house, a 28-year-old male, came up to the door, only to be greeted by the two men. There were three others in the house, including the owner’s wife. What happened afterwards was unclear.
In the end, the male owner of the house was shot and later pronounced dead at nearby North Memorial Hospital. The Robbinsdale Police Department responded to a 911 call of shots fired at this house. Police officers, along with an ambulance and Hennepin County Sheriff Department Crime Investigation units, also appeared in the frigid air of the young New Year.
Somehow, I slept through all of this. I heard a boom, but that was it. As I awoke, I noticed the police cars, the crime unit and the yellow police tape around our neighbor’s front yard. It took a while to piece everything together, but as the media showed up at the corner, I suddenly knew that something strange went on two doors down the street.
Before noon, I left the house to head into Downtown Minneapolis when a reporter approached me from WCCO-TV. She handed me a paper that had the official release by the Robbinsdale Police Department regarding the incident on our block. It turned out to be a “home invasion,” a forcible entry into the home, turned into a robbery. What I failed to read was the part about a “homicide” that was part of the crime scene. I learned that through the Internet over lunch.
During the course of the day, I tried to put this on the back of my mind. I tried to be stronger than the crime that happened two doors down. It took some memories of living in some rough communities to put things in perspective. I grew up in Los Angeles and always talked about how tough Reseda can be. I knew of gang members who were voluntarily bussed from South Central Los Angeles that just went along for the ride. I experienced some real rough scenes, such as the break-in of a friend’s car at the P Street Beach near Washington’s Dupont Circle where a bag of clothes, papers and other stuff was stolen. I spent a year commuting through one of St. Paul’s roughest streets hoping that no one would try to assault me as I peaceably went my way.
When I was looking for a new place to live, my current landlord told me how safe this neighborhood was. This fact sold me that there is more care about the community than some of the neighborhoods on the other side of the Minneapolis line, a mere few blocks away.
Yet, there is a relative unease in this part of Robbinsdale. With every step towards making amends with this loss, our ears perk up at any piece of speculative information about the incident and related issues leading up to New Year’s Day. As it turned out, there were other break-in robberies near the block where I live. There were reported sightings of a suspicious vehicle that was possibly casing the neighborhood just before the incident. Detectives from both the Robbinsdale Police and the Hennepin County Sheriff have been combing the neighborhood looking for information relating to the incident. The media has been badgering us to meet their deadlines, even to the point of drawing close to an ethical line.
My initial relative calm from Tuesday has now turned into concern. There is a tinge of fear, yet tempered with some relief. It didn’t happen at this house, yet it happened too close for comfort. Things like this happen everywhere, so what’s the point of moving away from anti-social behavior? We’re very confident that the law enforcement teams will catch these guys. I’m also very confident that this community will breathe a huge sigh of relief. I also hope that these incidents will cease in this community.
The point of this post is not to incite fear or to elicit any sympathy. I’m only trying to relate the situation and how I am dealing with it. Yet, we all need to be aware of our own safety and security wherever we go and whatever we do. We also need to be vigilant in how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives. As we are cognizant of our personalities, our interactions and our relationships, we also need to be cautious when we face anti-social behavior. We cannot hide behind our fortresses, whether it is our home or an outer-ring suburb. Neighborhood Watch programs and simply talking to our neighbors are a good start towards creating a stronger sense of home around us.
The one thing that has been mentioned many times to me in the past couple of days is the understanding that things like this happen. My own sense of safety and security is still in tact, but I just need to navigate through the fallout of the events of the early hours of New Year's Day.