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May 12, 2003

These are the people in your neighborhood
Posted by Teresa at 10:54 AM *

We could hear a dopplering choir of sirens moving around our neighborhood earlier this morning, but we couldn’t tell what was up. Then, when Patrick left to go to work, he found he couldn’t get through to the subway station.

Down at the foot of our block there’s a double police line, a pileup of at least five smashed-up cars, and an interesting collection of emergency personnel and their attendant vehicles. It’s a mess. It’s worse than the time Fourth Avenue flooded. I’d say it’s the most excitement we’ve had on that block since the time a few years back when the police busted in on a reported terrorist bomb factory and found that the bombs were armed. (Now, that was a truly weird day. They evacuated everyone to within a couple of buildings of us, and all day long I could track how things were going on my block by consulting AP and Reuters.)

I’m not seeing this story on the news yet, but Patrick talked to a news cameraman, and I talked to one of my neighbors who happened to be driving along Fourth Avenue when the Wild Hunt came by. Apparently there was an extended high-speed chase that looped and wound back and forth through this area of Brooklyn. That’s what my neighbor saw; he said you could see it coming up Fourth Ave. from six blocks away. I gather he parked and got inside. Anyway, the chase ended in a massive multi-car pileup at the foot of our quiet little street.

My neighbor said he heard more about it from a friend of his that works with the towing company that cut one of the participants out of a smashed car. His friend told him to go back out and check his own car for damage; there’d been shots fired, some of them to take out the tires of the fleeing vehicle, so I guess that either some of the shots went wild, or not all of them were aimed at tires. Another one of my neighbors, one of the old Italian ladies who’s lived in this immediate neighborhood all her life, said one of her cronies had told her there’d been shots fired on Fifth Avenue as well.

I’ve got New York 1 running as I type this, but so far they haven’t mentioned the story. I figure that if I don’t hear about it through the normal news media, I can wait and catch it on TLC or Discovery Channel’s compilation, “When Animals Attack America’s Dumbest Criminals on Film During High Speed Car Chases Involving the World’s Worst Drivers.”

Comments on These are the people in your neighborhood:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 12:42 PM:

My grandfather was a cop in Brooklyn through the early 60s. I will channel him a moment and say:

Nothing to see here. Move along . . . go 'bout yer business. Move along . . .

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 12:58 PM:

They weren't saying "nothing to see here," not with a smashed heap of cars clearly visible in the middle of the intersection. (The intersection is downhill from us, which gives us pretty good sight lines.) They police just put up two barricade-and-tape lines, one at the edge of the intersection and one ten feet back up our street, and told everyone not to cross them.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 12:59 PM:

I should add: Other than that, you've got it down pat.

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 01:11 PM:

Awww, I was giving tribute to a cartoon (Chas Addams?) which had a cop saying "nothing to see here" when there indeed was . . . a guy getting dragged into a storm drain by a giant squid, or something similarly Addams-ish.

Nothing on www.nytimes.com yet.

#5 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 01:34 PM:

News.google.com isn't much help either. I'm assuming it's not the story about a Brooklyn Flower Vendor Robbed, Bitten by Pit Bull.

#6 ::: Adrienne Martini ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 02:17 PM:

Is it just me or is it horribly dangerous to be a car in the Nielsen Hayden neck o' Brooklyn? I wonder what you'd have to sacrifice to rid the area of the recent bad mojo...

#7 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 02:25 PM:

The dangers of blogging: I now have my entire household singing the Sesame Street song about "Who are the people in your neighborhood," thanks to your post. Sigh.

Hope they get things straightened out soon. There are car crashes in the intersection outside our kitchen window at least once a week, and it can be something of a distraction from work.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 05:56 PM:

Hey, most of the cars survived the flood, and I don't know of any cars that got taken out by the bomb factory scare. And as for high-speed chases that terminate in multi-car crashes, I have it on the best authority that they happen elsewhere more often than they do here.

That's what puzzles me about this thing: What did the guy think he was doing? You might get away with fleeing the scene in some Sun Belt city -- but in Brooklyn?

Also, you have to understand that our freeways aren't fast enough, so we have to have our high-speed crashes on surface streets. Fourth Ave. gets a bit more than its share because it's broad and, by local standards, not too badly congested.

It's a vexation. This neighborhood is full of little kids (not to mention defenseless parked cars), and speeding drivers will turn off Fourth onto residential streets at dangerously high speeds. I'm on record as thinking, even before my car got totalled, that it would be a good idea if the city installed one speed bump per block around here. I don't see that there's any sane reason to do forty or fifty miles an hour up these narrow residential streets, and I don't see why we have to accommodate the drivers who do.

#9 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 06:15 PM:

Here's the story, courtesy of Channel 7 news.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/news/WABC_051203_trafficstop.html

Sounds like it was pretty dramatic. And you're right, Brooklyn is no place for high-speed chases - except on a motorcycle :-)

#10 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 06:42 PM:

Wow. I'm glad you and Patrick are ok, at least.

Going off on a bit of a tangent:

His friend told him to go back out and check his own car for damage; there92d been shots fired, some of them to take out the tires of the fleeing vehicle, so I guess that either some of the shots went wild, or not all of them were aimed at tires.

Something similar happened in Montgomery County while I was in grad school, and I remember hearing a cop (or ex-cop) explaining that it's really very difficult to shoot out the tires of a moving car. Not just because it's a moving target, but because tires are designed to resist being punctured by random objects, and as a consequence the bullets are fairly likely to bounce off, and ricochet into other cars, buildings, or passers-by.

(In that particular case, I think a bystander got hit by a police round that (they said) had glanced off a tire.)

I can't speak for the accuracy of this claim, as I'm not a Gun Person. Somebody here almost certainly knows more than I do about the subejct. (Were we on r.a.s.w, I'd expect James Nicoll to chime in with a story about how he got a bullet lodged somewhere painful while trying to shoot out the tires of a speeding eighteen-wheeler...)

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 06:45 PM:

Note to self: Use a COLOR photocopier to duplicate license plates for get-away vehicle during Phase Three of Operation Gowanus Liberation.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 07:29 PM:

Chad, I don't doubt that several of the regulars here know all about shooting out tires. Beyond that I have faith that if I get something really wrong, Doug Morgan will set me straight in e-mail.

Stefan: Good idea there. Of course, if you'd tried it a few years ago, they'd have probably given you the Gowanus for free.

#13 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2003, 09:44 PM:

Huh. I live in the Slope, and your web log is the first I've heard of it. (And I must have crossed the path of the chase at least twice today.)

[notes Xeroxed license plate trick; hey, you never know]

Glad you're all OK.

#14 ::: The Littlest Cynic ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 12:46 AM:

Jesus, Ms. Hayden, we live right next to each other.

The car looked pretty smashed up when I saw it walking home from school. Insane though, veritably insane. Where would you escape to on 4th avenue?

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 01:00 AM:

Cynic parvus, tell me in email where you live, and I'll do the same for you. I hear Seth Farber of The Talking Dog lives right around here somewhere.

Lord knows where the guy thought he'd escape to on Fourth Avenue. Can you imagine if he'd been heading north? You get your choice of Flatbush, Atlantic, and the approaches to the bridges and the BQE. Southbound it's the wilds of Brooklyn, or if you're inordinatey lucky the further reaches of Long Island.

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2003, 01:01 AM:

You too, Carlos. Want to meet at The Gate some night?

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