The senseless, cowardly killing of three police officers this past Saturday came way too close to home.
I went up to the Lake to visit my father this past weekend. We were channel surfing when we came upon CNN. Pittsburgh was in the headlines. Four policeman were shot. As we kept watching, I kept thinking that the street looked familiar. When they said the name of the street where the shooting was taking place was 1016 Fairfield I could have fallen off the chair. I asked my father what the address was of my Uncle Pud's brother Donny. 1015 Fairfield. Directly across the street. Then my mind raced. My friend Flo, 1109. A mere five houses away. My friend Beth, 1118. My cousin's sister in law, 1127.
I immediately started calling around to see who I could get in touch with. The first person I reached was Joyce. She lives about 3 blocks away. The gunfire woke her up.
Donny and Joanne, who live across the street at 1015 had the swat van parked on their front lawn. Sharp shooters on their roof and police shooting from their living room. I'm sure it will be a long time before they can get the images of a dead policeman lying in the middle of their street for hours out of their head.
Beth went outside when she heard first shots and saw police running down the street with machine guns telling her to get in her basement. One of the policeman was her cousin Paul who also lives up the street. Then she said all news stations were calling for interviews even before the shots stopped.
And poor Flo, she just lost her husband and moved up to Stanton Heights because she thought it was a safer, quiter neighborhood.
I could go on. But you get the picture. Stanton Heights is a short 5-10 minute drive from my Shadyside neighborhood.
You never think that the horror you see nightly on the news would have the faces and the names of the people you know. When it does, it numbs you.
Coming home from the grocery store this evening, I passed the funeral home where Officer Scuillo was. There was a line a block long. He went to the same grade school and high school as my son Danny. As a mother, I could not imagine what his mother must be going through.
I was a Law Enforcement major in college. I did an internship with the county police the summer between my junior and senior year. 1978. We were working on a case and they were finally ready to arrest they guy. It was getting late in the day, but the detectives asked me if I wanted to go with them to find and arrest him. I jumped at the chance.
Long story short, we found the guy we were looking for and by the time we took him in and processed him I didn't get home until 1AM. I was 20 years old and didn't think to call my mother to tell her I would be late. (I know, I know, I'm getting paid back now) This was in 1978. Way before cell phones.
I walked into the house and my mother was completely hysterical. She had rosaries in her hands. I looked at her like she was nuts.
What I didn't know is that on the 6:00 news that evening she heard that there was a standoff with police somewhere and police were shot. Harriet being Harriet, she didn't bother to find out where it was (remember this is also way before 24 hr news and cable)She was convinced it was me. Turns out it was the same night as the MOVE uprising in Philadelphia.
My poor mother. She was sure I was in a gunfight somewhere with a bunch of lunatics.
I can only imagine the horror she would have felt if I was.
No mother should have to go through that.
*Weird coincidence. A few years later, while working at the FBI I did work on that MOVE case.