As a writer I spend a lot of time staring out the window. It comes with the territory. Something about writing makes any activity I can see other than my computer screen fascinating.
Since I’m often the only one in the office that means I look out the window hoping to be distracted, and Sunday night I can’t say I got what I wished for because I wasn’t wishing that anyone would get shot, but I can say that I was distracted.
In the Rhino Times World Headquarters building, my second floor office looks out on Friendly Avenue and Elon University Law School, so I keep track of all the activities in the alley, parking lot and on Friendly. If a car is going the wrong way up Friendly and I catch it out of the corner of my eye, I know something is wrong with the world even if I don’t know what it is at first.
Sunday night, July 8, I was in my office looking out the window and heard some loud bangs. Since the Fourth of July was last week I thought someone was still celebrating, but I saw a white SUV stopped in the far right lane of Friendly with three young black men near it on the sidewalk. After the loud bangs the three men took off sprinting toward Greene Street and the SUV accelerated in the opposite direction toward Commerce Place.
One of the young men was limping badly. It appeared he couldn’t bend his right knee. The other two had left him far behind, but when they realized he wasn’t with them they hesitated and then came back toward him.
I realized what I had seen was most likely a drive-by shooting. I didn’t call 911 because by the time I decided I should call, police cars started showing up.
I knew they would be cordoning off the area pretty soon, so I went out to see if I could see any bullet holes in the building or blood on the sidewalk because I wasn’t convinced that what I had seen was a shooting.
I discovered I’m not a very good detective because I walked right past the door at 216 W. Friendly Ave., which had a bullet hole near the bottom, and the top half, which is glass, was shattered. I didn’t notice either until later.
When I got down to the street there was an ambulance near the corner of Commerce and Friendly and I saw them load a stretcher and drive away. But I knew it couldn’t have been the young man I thought had been shot because he ran in the opposite direction, which confused me and evidently confused the police in the beginning.
There was nothing about another injury on the report I received from the Police Department. So I don’t know what the ambulance was doing there and don’t even know if there was a person on the stretcher.
Police officers were taking statements from people, so I waited my turn. One officer took my name, date of birth, address and phone number to make things go quicker. A second officer took my statement and I was telling him that the shooting had happened half a block east on Friendly and he seemed to think I was confused until some other witnesses heard me and agreed.
I don’t know that I added any other bit of useful information. It sounded like we had all seen pretty much the same thing, just from different angles.
By the time I headed back to my office, the area where the young man was shot was cordoned off and I saw two police officers looking at the door with the smashed window and bullet hole, and that’s when I noticed those.
The one thing I did get right was the time. I said that it happened at 10:40 p.m. and that’s what the police report says, although, come to think of it, maybe they got that from me. I was sitting at my computer with the time displayed on the screen, so it wasn’t hard to know when it took place.
The report I received states that the police located one male victim who appeared to be suffering from a gunshot wound. The report states, “The victim stated that he was leaving an establishment downtown when he heard gunfire and realized he had been shot.”
If that is the case then it was a drive-by shooting where the people in the car for whatever reason decided to shoot at some people on the street. Of course, there could be a lot more to the story. It did appear to me that the SUV was stopped when the shooting took place, which might indicate they were looking for someone in particular.
According to the police, “there is no suspect at this time.”
I’ve been working downtown for 27 years and there is no telling how many hours, days or months I have spent over that time staring out the window, but this is the first shooting I’ve ever seen.
And it seems a little odd that the shooting was on Friendly in an area where there isn’t usually much foot traffic. It’s not deserted, but nobody would call it crowded. Three people walking down the sidewalk in that block is probably about right.
However, if it was a drive-by then that’s a pretty good place because a car is not likely to get caught in traffic on Friendly and the driver could count on being able to get away pretty quickly.
I’m hoping that the police solve this one because I would like to know more about what really happened.