Tuesday, May 09, 2006

How does a teenager get an AK-47?

Yesterday, just at the time I was leaving the office around 3:30 in the afternoon, chaos erupted at the county police station across the street. This happened behind me along my commute, so my father and I spent half of the 50 mile drive counting the emergency vehicles who were rushing to the scene, lights and sirens and helicopters blazing. There were 25 along our way alone. WTOPNews radio, a vital frequency for anyone who drives in the Washington Metropolitan area, was reporting the incident as it related to traffic and getting around the area. It was a full 20 minutes from when we first saw the cruisers speeding past before there were any details, and they were foggy at best.

Shots fired, suspect on the scene, suspect at large, officers down.

The office park where my building is located was locked down, as well as local schools and businesses, roads were closed off, and anyone caught driving or attempting to drive on them was pulled over and their business questioned. The station is located at a major intersection on a major throughway to a major airport, and the incident happened at the start of the evening rush hour. The region spent the night in confusion, wanting details but getting none. There was nothing but news on the television, and every reporter was reporting something different.

The morning found us in a kind of haze. We have more details now, but some are still not clear. 3 individuals were wounded, one was an officer who is still in critical condition, the other two, an officer and a civilian, were treated and released. 2 individuals died from their wounds, one was the 18 year old gunman, the other was the first officer to be killed by an assailant in the line of duty in the department's entire 66 year history. The sad irony of the incident is that it occurred on the day the county commemorated a memorial to fallen officers, the county has only ever lost three officers in the line of duty, to traffic accidents, before yesterday.

The gunman is described to be a troubled youth who believed he had a problem with the police. He did have a prior record. There is no talk today of the second suspect the media was alluding to yesterday.

Trigger happy shooting sprees are still fresh in the minds of the people in this area, especially as the convicted DC sniper begins his second trial for murders in Maryland in 2002. Today, the office is quiet and muted, even the phones are not ringing today. It is dark from the blinds that were pulled over the windows that no one has bothered to raise. Even the skies are gloomy and gray.

Take a moment and remember.

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