This shooting has me somewhat disturbed. My parents live not too far from there -- my mother bikes through the area every day on her way to work. I don't think it terribly likely that they would be involved in any kind of shooting (okay, there was that one time they were in the bank when it got held up...), but...
First, my father knows the guys who work there. He takes his computers there to be fixed. So while the person who got shot isn't anyone I know, it's almost like hearing about an acquaintance being shot. This? This disturbs me.
Second... Palo Alto is a rich yuppie town. It is not West Oakland. I'm not at all happy to have violent crimes on the rise in the area. Sure, one incident could be a freak occurance, but like I said, my folks were there when their bank got held up, and my best friend's mother just missed being there when her bank got held up. This is yuppie suburbanville, fercryinoutloud.
I think this is effecting me more than normal because of a couple of other things that have been going on. My best friend recently got robbed at gunpoint. As far as armed muggings go, it turned out the best that could possibly have happened. (No one got hurt, and all she lost was her toiletries bag and not her wallet.) And I was just yesterday thinking that part of why I moved was to get away from the big city and all the crime there. I've been walking back through my memory of watching the guy get shot outside my work and remembering how very little I enjoyed the experience.
(Oddly, the shooting, while it made me twitchy, did not register as being that disturbing to me at the time. Okay, so I never felt comfortable again in the Japanese restaurant across the street -- which was treated to a front-row view of the shootout -- but it wasn't until my car got stolen three weeks later that suddenly I had all sense of personal security removed. The shooting set the stage, with the the car being the straw that broke the camel's back.)
It's unfortunate that all this is happening now. I'm already highly stressed, and going back through a lot of bad, stressful reactions/memories doesn't strike me as something I'm really feeling up for at the moment. Feh.
But since I am here, let me take a moment to tell two stories. Both of them have a common theme: At the end of the day, it's only money; it is not worth getting shot in the head over.
I was at my parents' house when today's robbery took place. My father always listens to the fire channel on his scanner. So he heard the call for the paramedics, and was speculating on whether the problem was at the We Fix Macs store or at the pet food store next door to it. The initial call was followed up by a second call and the directive "stage away."
Not knowing what that meant, I asked. Well, the paramedics were being told to go to the scene but not actually go onto the scene because it wasn't safe for them. Sometimes there's a suicide attempt or hostage situation or whatever, so the medics get close enough to the scene that they are there to help, but stay far enough back that they are not involved in whatever is going on. That was the first inkling I had that this was not terribly routine.
The second inkling was a few minutes later when Dispatch relayed more information to the medics who were en route. "This is a GSW to the back of the head."
"GSW?" my mother asked.
"Gun shot wound," I replied. Given the circumstances, that was the only abreviation that made sense. That would explain why the medics were told to stay back.
It wasn't long before the medics arrived, and only a minute after that they were told the police had cleared the scene as safe to go in. A couple of minutes later they reported that they were headed to Stanford with a code 3. Obviously the gentleman with the gunshot wound to the back of the head was the lucky recipient of the Go To The Front Of The Emergency Room Line award.
My mother and I were headed out. When we returned, my father reported what had happened. The store clerk was there alone and the gunman entered and held the place up. At some point he put the gun down so that he could use both hands to take the money. The store clerk saw his chance and went for the gun. A scuffle ensued, and the gun went off. Unfortunately, the wrong person got shot. The thief got away clean, though the police had been out with searchlights trying to track him down. (When I left at 9:30 the scene of the crime seemed oddly normal. It was almost not natural passing by and seeing that there was nothing to indicate that anything out of the ordinary had happened.)
I tell this story not just to record it for posterity (and maybe get it to stop playing over and over in my head), but also to illustrate a point: it is only money. It is not worth getting shot in the back of the head.
And since I'm dragging through shootings gone by, let me relate the companion story.
When I was still working up in downtown SF, the bank around the corner got robbed. During the robbery it seems that the gunmen (there were two of them) got distracted, and a good samaritan customer decided to be a hero. He jumped the gunman, and a scuffle ensued. It ended with the customer receiving a bullet in the face.
I don't remember if his distraction allowed the bank personnel to sound the alarm or if it just delayed the thieves long enough for the cops to arrive. The gunmen fled the bank but one of them was cornered in an alley. A shoot-out with police ensued which resulted, eventually, in the gunman being dead and the officer trying to apprehend him being shot in the leg.
Someone other than me may disagree, but while I admire the guy for being noble, to this day I still believe that it's only money, and that it's not worth being shot in the face. The guy who got shot in the face may disagree with me. Fortunately, he is still alive to be able to disagree with me. I wonder if he thinks it was worth it.
Up until... Well, ever since the bank robbery up until I finished typing the last paragraph, I believed firmly that at the end of the day it's only money and it's not worth the risk to stand up against criminals. And yet... Now that I think about it I have to wonder. If no one stands against the criminals, everyone cooperates and no one tries to stop them, then what hope is there that crime will diminish? The two people in my two stories, are they just average people trying to look out for their own interests, or do their actions reflect a sacrifice for the greater good? Yes, I realize that when they chose their actions they probably were thinking about nothing more than how to stop the criminal. And yet, they acted out of a desire to stop a crime. Logically I can't see how complying with the demands of criminals will stop crime. But I can see how resisting them might.
Something to think on.