Monday, January 21, at least 10 shots were fired from an SUV, and a man was killed on the sidewalk, about a thousand feet from my front door.
Lincoln jumped up from his chair and ran downstairs, asking if we had heard the commotion (we didn't). He heard the gunshots and saw the SUV speeding south down Avery.
I called Wayne State Police and was told by the dispatcher that they already had several calls about the incident and they were on it, and did I have a description of the vehicle? I did not and they thanked me for the call. By the time I hung up, there were four police cars arriving on the scene; this is less than five minutes after the shooting. Both Detroit and Wayne State Police were on the scene, and EMS was on its way.
I immediately went to a private Facebook group for our neighborhood and asked if anybody knew what happened. Within moments, responses started flooding in.Neighbors from all over the block were asking one thing: is everyone okay? Did anyone get hurt?
Recently, a friend of mine was murdered and I saw how quickly rumors and misinformation about the incident spread, so I will not speculate anything about what happened, who the victim was, what his relationship to the shooters was, or anything else. What I've seen so far from people who witnessed it is that the victim was not from around here. That's the only credible thing I've heard so far, so I'll leave it be at that.
It would be very easy to say "Oh, a shooting in Detroit... a man gunned down in the street on a Monday evening in a residential neighborhood... what else is new?" and never mention it again.
It would also be easy to say things like "See, Brian? This is Detroit. This is what you moved into... You should have expected this".
The problem is, my experience with this incident so far has not even remotely jived with expectations. I don't feel unsafe here all of the sudden. I was not afraid to go out ten minutes after the shooting and load up my car to drive my son to his mom's house. I was not afraid to talk to my neighbors in the street and see if they heard what happened. I was not afraid to stand on my front porch. I am not afraid now, sitting in my office typing this blog post. I don't feel like bullets are going to come flying through my window, and I don't feel like I'm going to be a victim.
The reason I don't feel unsafe is because the neighborhood mobilized instantly. The Wayne State University Police and the Detroit Police were here immediately. Neighbors were out checking on each other, even though it's about close to zero degrees outside right now. People on Facebook were checking in on each other. The people whose house got hit by the bullet spray? They took in the victim's dog (the dog was apparently in the victim's car). One of the first things I saw on the Facebook group was "What can I do to help?" Someone who lived at the end of our block said they saw the vehicle and offered a more detailed description.
I used to live in Warren, where there was a lot of gang violence that you never read about or heard about. There were a lot of shootings, gunfire in a restaurant that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old waitress, a cop-killing, attempted murder in a coffee shop I used to hang out in, and shots fired in the Warren Police Station, all from the same group of thugs. I don't know if it was because it was in the suburbs or because the gang members weren't black, but they just never got reported about. I do know that I felt unsafe after a lot of those incidents, and everything was hush-hush and whispered rumors and innuendo... and I don't ever remember anyone asking my ex-wife (who worked at the coffee shop) if she was okay, or if we needed anything. For a long time I was worried about my ex at the coffee shop, wondering if one of these thugs would come back to cause more trouble.
I just don't feel that here, at all. I think because this neighborhood will not tolerate that, and the reason we will not tolerate it is because Detroiters are not afraid. Call them nosy if you want, but my neighbors will be peeking out their windows, calling the police (who have encouraged us to do this) for any little thing that seems suspicious. We will not tolerate thuggish behavior in our neighborhood; hell, we have neighbors who won't even tolerate people walking in the middle of the street and will ask people to walk on the sidewalks instead. Yes, it can seem a little overbearing and oversensitive, but on cold nights like tonight, we remember why it should be like this.
Woodbridge is like a small town in many ways, but so is Detroit. This stuff hits hard, but if you ask me right now: Do you feel safe? I'm saying yes, absolutely.
This post originally appeared on into Detroit.