Last night I was pondering what topic or event I would follow for today’s post with little of interest that was jumping out at me. 10 minutes into my attempt at sleep, my boyfriend and I heard something I have never heard before in my 20-something years in Louisville: gunshots. We both decided it was fireworks and decided to go back to sleep. Then the non-stop flow of sirens with New York City bravado headed directly for our ears was enough to get me out of my warm bed, to the other end of our apartment, and out onto the balcony. The roundabout, a stone’s throw away from my residence, and the catty-corner street that feeds into it, were ablaze with so many flashing lights that I could hardly count how many police cars the lights were coming from.
Neighbors and the press waiting to hear details.
I went out to join my neighbors on the sidewalk to gawk like any curious observer. Even though I decided that I had indeed heard gunshots, it didn’t register that someone was actually shot. That just doesn’t happen in my neighborhood, right? No one was whispering a word. Finally I asked the stout man beside me if anyone had been hurt. His answer made me feel like he had physically punched me instead of verbally answered me. “Yeah, that guy was killed,” he said as he pointed to the car we had all been blankly staring at. Sure enough, the previous “white thing” tucked between the car’s rear tire and the street curb was now identified as a body with a sheet over it. I assumed the standard position of someone in complete shock: head forward, eyes bugged out, hands over mouth.
Louisville police officer, Dwight Mitchell, answering questions from the press about the shooting.
I stood around for nearly an hour since it seemed the TV crews were preparing to record something and, whatever it was, I wanted to see it. Turns out I was waiting for Louisville police officer, Dwight Mitchell’s, statement about the incident (I’m 90% sure it was him; always wear your contacts when you care to see what’s going on). In a nutshell, he told the hungry cameras that there had been an altercation between two men in the car and another man on foot which escalated and resulted in one dead and another in critical condition. The shooter fled on foot. I just walked outside, 6pm the next day, to see the press once again swarming around the roundabout and overheard one reporter say that the canine unit was unsuccessful at finding the man and he was still on the loose. Not terribly comforting.
This is not the kind of “painting journalism” I had in mind, so I wanted to share my less formal sketchbook with you. I’ve always been the naive girl that thought locking the door after coming home was a terrible way to live, always fearful. And I admit, if it weren’t for my boyfriend’s adamant disapproval, I would still entertain the thought of jogging right now in my neighborhood. But my “sense of security had been shaken” without a doubt. I actually just got to quote myself. I was quoted in Louisville’s Courier Journal today about the incident. I actually chatted for a while with the woman from the CJ who questioned me, Jessie Halladay. Turns out she lives in the area and heard the gunshots herself. Given her job, you can understand how she seemed a little desensitized by the killing. She painted a fairly grim picture about the reality of Louisville’s crime rates. Apparently 40 homicides a year is not a far-fetched number and there are many more attacks in our own backyards than we hear about. I was glad to see that someone wasn’t as frantic about this as I was. She was very calming.
This last sketch was from this morning. The angle is such that I was standing directly behind where the victim’s car (and body) had been the night before. The weather was appropriately gloomy, damp and generally depressing. I guess I expected to find bright yellow crime tape draped along people’s front yards, but it was as if nothing had happened. Not one rubber glove, not even a single drop of blood. Only a soaked lonely sock stomped into the wet grass.