I left Shampoo (Dracula's Ball) just before 2 AM, and called Raaven to let here know I was on my way home (that way my body only has to lie in a ditch for a short time before someone comes looking for it). I walked down 8th to Market St to catch the "Night-Owl" shuttle bus that takes over for the subway after 11PM. As I approached Market, I saw a few police cars zoom by, lights and sirens full on, one even came down 8th. Then more police cars, one after another, zooming by and stopping one block away, at 9th and Market streets. Even a big SUV sort-of thing.
I stood there at the corner for a moment, wondering what was going on. A couple of of Septa workers and construction workers working downstairs in the El station came up to see what all the sirens were about. The view wasn't good, there was a lot of cop cars, lights flashing, clustered around the end of the street.
So, there we are, standing on the corner of 8th and Market, gawking east toward the multitude of flashing lights at 9th and speculating, when >pop-p-p-p-pop-p-pop!< A long burst of overlapping gunshots! By the time I even thought to duck for cover, it was over. No stray bullets, thankfully! There were at least 5 shots, but could have been as many as 9 or more. After 5 years living in West Philadelphia, hearing all kinds of popping noises, I finally know for sure what a police pistol shot sounds like.
The group reacted! "What was that!" "Shit!" "Damn!" "Somebody just died!" "That was a suicide-by-cop!"
Everyone was a little weirded by it. The general assumption (sight unseen!) seemed to be that there was only one person being shot at, it was a dude, he never fired a shot, was probably unarmed, and the number of shots fired was excessive. A minute later, someone came walking from that direction.
"Dude, what happened?"
"I think they tasered some dude, he didn't go down, so they shot him"
"What'd he do?" "Did he pulla gun?" "Did he have a knife?"
"I couldn't see-I was half a block away"
"That's illegal!" "They never get in trouble"
"It's like 'Rizzo's Rangers[Raiders?]' all over again!"
"I didn't stick around, man... I didn't want to be 'a problem' for them."
Shortly, another fellow arrived from the east.
"Man, they just shot that guy!"
"I saw it all, man, they tasererd him, zap! zap! zap! zap!
"He wouldn't go down
"He threw a bottle or something, they shot him"
Again, the consensus was that this was excessive, that nothing would come of it for the police doing the shooting, and that this was a sign that the Mayor was giving the police a free and rough hand to "clean up" the city.
At that moment, the Night Owl arrived, and I was across the street. I missed it. Crap.
I called Raaven again, first to tell her I was O.K., and second to tell her why I might not have been... what I'd just experienced. It was the closest I'd ever been to violent death. It felt very strange and unnerving.
I'm glad I wasn't the guy that got shot.
I'm glad to know more of the story of what went on that night.
I still think the number of shots was totally excessive. I mean, how dead does a guy need to be? Don't they have "designated shooters" at these things, or is it really just a free-for-all get-your-shots-in-while-you-can gun-fight party?