Friday, November 30, 2007

Lady in the White Mercedes

A few weeks ago I was sent to the parking garage of an exclusive resort where a woman was sitting in her white Mercedes with the engine running. A garden hose was protruding from the exhaust pipe leading into the rear window. A citizen approached the woman and asked what she was doing. The woman replied she was fine and asked to be left alone. The citizen yanked the hose out of the tailpipe and the woman drove off. The person memorized the license plate and called police.

By the time I arrived with another officer, the woman was gone but we looke up her address using the license plate number. We drove to her house and found her inside relaxing on a couch. Her husband answered the door and we told him what had just happened with his wife. He nodded his head and told us she had been suffering from severe depression and was under a doctor's care. He called her psychiatrist and assured us he would get her the help she needed. The whole time we were there the woman kept repeating, "It's just a misunderstanding. I'm fine." They did not want any assistance from us or from the fire department so we left them to work out their problems.

Last night I heard an attempted suicide call come over the radio but I was en route to a car theft in progress so I didn't hear all the details. After I was finished with my auto theft call I was asked to come take photographs of the suicide scene.

As I pulled up to the dead end street in an upscale desert community, I immediately recognized the older white Mercedes. I could see two garden hoses coming out of the rear window connected to the car's exhaust pipe. There was crime scene tape strung around the car and nearby desert area. As I approached I saw a white towel on the ground outside the driver's door and a large pool of blood. A pair of women's shoes and glasses were placed neatly on the ground next to the towel.

Two homicide detectives were on the scene conducting an unknown death investigation. They told me a resident found the woman sitting in her car with the engine running. She saw the hoses and went back inside her house and called police. When officers arrived they found her lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. A search of her car revealed a two page suicide note, a handgun case, a box of ammunition, and a receipt for the gun purchase. A separate receipt showed she paid for a one hour shooting lesson at an indoor range. The gun and lesson were purchased earlier in the day.

As I took photographs of the scene, the woman's cell phone rang again and again. The detective verified the missed calls were from her husband and children. Officers and a Sergeant drove to the victim's house to notify her husband of her death. He answered the door and asked stoically, "Is this about my wife?". The officers replied, "Yes." He then asked, "Is she dead?" and the he was told, "Yes." He was not surprised since she had apparently attempted this many times in the past. Their teenage children were very upset by the news even though they were aware of their mom's depression and history with suicide attempts.

I'll never understand what makes a person want to take their own life. From outward appearances, this woman seemed to have a good life. It's a shame she wasn't able to conquer whatever demons she had inside her. It's another her husband and kids will probably associate the holiday season with her unexplainable death.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

7 Things to Be Thankful For

This is the time of year when we all give thanks. In case you're having trouble coming up with some blessings of your own, here are 7 things I've come across recently:

1. Be thankful you don't have to stand in front of wall in a vacant lot everyday at sunset to soak up the sun's setting rays for "longer life":

2. Be thankful if you don't end up in the county jail's rubber-walled safe room with amenities such as the hole in the floor toilet system:

3. Be thankful you're not compelled to decorate the trunk of your car with a cryptic message about dating and a bitter divorce:

4. Be thankful your drunk girlfriend doesn't always throw a 24 ounce drinking glass at your face requiring 20 stitches to close the gaping hole in your cheek. (Also be thankful if same boyfriend doesn't retaliate by fracturing your nose with a punch to the face). Both went to the hospital together and then to the county jail for domestic violence assault but promised to mend their differences with a nice trip to Las Vegas.
5. Be thankful you're not the franchise owner of this Long John Silvers restaurant that was stripped of every ounce of copper wiring, pipe, and fixtures. And to keep with their destructive talents, the theives smashed all the toilets, sinks, and equipment for kicks:

6. Be thankful you're permitted to express your artistic talents by painting your house in even the most hideous of colors:

7. And one we can all relate to -Be thankful you don't drive a 1976 Cadillac as your life may soon be in jeopardy:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

He Got Gun

I completed the certified rifle course and am now the designated rifle operator for my squad. We fired thousands of rounds in various positions and situations. The hardest drill was to lie prone on the ground looking through the sight on a target without moving. After 40 minutes of laying motionless, my neck and shoulder muscles were aching. At any moment, the instructor would call out 2 targets that we had to shoot in under 2 seconds so there was no time to stretch or shift positions.

Most of the target shooting was done from 50 yards away but we also shot from 100, 200, and 300 yards.

Here's the view of a life-sized human silhouette target from 100 yards:

And here it is from 300 yards:
I could barely see the target from this distance but was able to hit the silhouette with 9 out of 10 shots (the guy next to me didn't hit the paper once from 200 or 300 yards).

Monday, November 05, 2007


When I was a teenager I was expected to clean up after myself. Tell me what you would do if you were twirling a loaded gun and accidentally shot yourself in the hand. I'd be afraid of making a mess and would run to the sink or grab a towel to control the spurting. This kid, however, ran around the entire house decorating the floors, walls, and furniture in a trendy new blood spatter pattern.

I'm sure you've heard of disgruntled employees returning to work after being fired to terrorize the boss and fellow employees with a gun. When this guy was fired, he made a point to cuss out his co-workers on the way out. One of them apparently didn't like this too much and decided to pay the out of work man a visit later that night. He knocked on the styrofoam core door and waited for jobless joe to answer. When he opened the door, this guy raised a .45 and cranked off five rounds. After being hit once in the chest, the homeowner slammed the door and took two more rounds to the chest through the door.
With three gunshot wounds to the upper chest, the man was upset the police were bothering him and wanted us to leave. He was uncooperative and tried to refuse medical treatment. I'll never understand how some people can die from the slightest injury while others walk away unharmed by major trauma.