Friday, July 08, 2005

The Noir Thing, Part II

When I was a teenager, I almost (stress on almost) walked into a real live shootout. I was walking to the train station near my home on a winter's day, eating peanuts or chips of something when I saw two old guys crouching behind a car. One of them motioned to me - get down! he said. I thought he was nuts and kept walking. Twenty yards later and another two old guys behind another car, they tried to wave me to the ground - get down! again. I began to wonder, but I certainly didn't stop walking. There were a lot of old people in my neiughborhood and if you stopped for every time they said something strange, well, you'd get nowhere.

Further on and I notice a couple of cop cars parked near the train station stairway at Pelham Parkway (the #2 line in the Bronx for those keeping score). There were cops crouched behind the cars, guns drawn. Nothing to do with me or anyone else as far as I could see. They were facing the Little Chester Shoe Store. A train, not mine, was pulling in on the tracks above me. Tons of noise. From about thirty yards away, I see a man leave the store, I see him double over, I see him run away from me around a corner, I see several uniformed police officers run after him. I keep walking.

Turns out, the man had gotten lousy service at the store and killed five people with a handgun. When he left the store, one of the cops had blasted a shotgun round through the rear passenger window of his squad car and into the man's gut causing him to double over. He managed to make it around the corner but collapsed soon after and was piled on by police. I never broke my stride and made it to the train station in the wake of running police officers. I had not seen a man shot before or since. I think the shot was fatal. Were there people in the store gasping their last breaths as I passed on my way to the train? Yes.

Here's the noir part - I heard (but don't know if it is true) that a survivor reported that a mother shopping with her two boys rushed them to the back of the store, away from the gunman, as the shooting started. The gunman, of course, was headed to the back himself. That is, in fact, where he found the mother and her children (as well as one of the shop owners) and killed them. Had she stayed in the side aisle where they had been looking at shoes, he might never have seen them.


Blogger KC Sierra said...

I was a reporter who covered that story. It is true that the mother and her two sons were where you said they were. Whether they would have been seen had they stayed put is pure speculation.

March 31, 2006 5:47 PM  

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