Saturday, October 25, 2008

Murder in Jamaica Plain (But For the Grace of G-d)

My previous two posts have concerned the murder of Little Rock TV news anchor Anne Pressly and the murder of the mother and brother of singer/actress Jennifer Hudson.

Crime occurs everyday in this country and in every other country. It is a part of human existence that we know lurks around us and hope it does not touch us.

This afternoon it nearly touched me. Although I did not know at the time.

At about 2:30, I walked from my apartment to the laundromat on the corner of Rossmore Road and Washington Street in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood in Boston where I recently moved.

During my time at the laundromat, I heard loud ambulance sirens go off for a couple of minutes. The neighborhood police station is nearby so other than the sound being loud and going on longer than usual I took little notice.

I left the laundromat after 4 p.m. and walked back on Rossmore Road towards Forest Hills Street. I was listening to music on my phone and I put my bag down for a moment. A man approached me and asked where I was going. It was then that I noticed the yellow police tape blocking the street. I asked if the street was blocked off and he replied in the affirmative. I walked down a side street and took an alternate route home.

I later learned that a young man had been shot and killed in the driveway of his home on the very street that I had walked not a half hour earlier. The victim has not been identified but he was installing a car seat when another man got out of a car, approached the victim and shot him three times before running back into the car.

Given the description of the incident it doesn't appear to be a random killing. But then again had I been walking there a short time later the gunman might have saw fit to fire at a potential witness. But for the Grace of G-d go I.

Something like this happened to me once before. It was on a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1994 when I was living in Ottawa. I remember taking a walk late that afternoon on Elgin Street, a stretch of road filled with restaurants. About an hour after I had walked on Elgin Street, a young man from Britain named Nicholas Battersby was walking there when some teenagers taking a joyride gunned him down in front of a club called The Penguin (the place where I had seen Bo Diddley play). This was truly a random act. Some suburban kids decided they wanted to know what it was like to kill a person and acted on it.

Once again but for the Grace of G-d. Those kids weren't specifically after Battersby. They were looking for a target, any target. If they had been out there an hour earlier perhaps Nick Battersby would be alive and perhaps might be blogging about the random shooting death of Aaron Goldstein.

The point here is that no one is immune from losing their life at a moment's notice. Those are the chances we take when we go to work, go to the corner store, take a leisurely walk or are going back home. Of course, one cannot convince oneself life will end imminently but on the other hand I am consciously aware that each day I wake up might be my last. It's not an easy way to live but it does enhance one's appreciation of the beauty that we occasionally find in the midst of the ugliness that often characterizes life.

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