Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's your instinct?

First time for everything, I guess.

I've been to crime scenes before. It's just something that goes with the business I used to be in.

But I've never been privy to the up-close-and-personal action before.

That's changed.

Like most people to whom these events happen, it was an otherwise mundane Sunday afternoon.

It was rainy. I spend the day watching football, cleaning the house and keeping an eye on the chili in the slow cooker.

Oh, I keep forgetting to get that prescription filled. I have time before kickoff when my friend is set to arrive, so I'll just head over to Shopper's Drug Mart and take care of that.

I head back to the pharmaceutical counter and chat with Gregg ... a three-G Gregg ... they're my favourite Greggs.

He says my prescription will be ready in about 10 minutes, so I head back to the front of the store, checking out the cosmetics aisle.

But there seems to be a bit of a commotion -- some loud talking and some slamming.

The gal at the cosmetics counter looks at me and says 'did he go back there? did he go to the pharmacy counter?'

I say 'who?' and she says some guy just burst in here.

I head back to the pharmacy counter ... look, it's not like I stormed back there for a fight. I inched my slowly, craning my neck.

I see Gregg on the phone. We make eye contact and I mouth 'are you OK?'

He says 'don't let that guy leave!'

So, I run back up front, figuring Gregg wouldn't tell me to challenge this guy if he had a weapon of any kind, but just as I got to the counter, the guy was running out the door and clutching some green bag close to his body.

I burst out the door in pursuit but he was gone in a flash. Another fellow is running with me but he stops pretty quickly when a woman, whom I suspect is his wife, starts yelling at him fairly angrily in Mandarin.

She was one of four customers in the store and she was sounding fairly panicky.

The bunch of them jump in their car and tear away.

I look at the gals working and say 'shouldn't you be keeping them here as witnesses?'

They tell me 'it's OK, we caught it all on camera.'

Yeah, but ...

They tell me I have to leave. They tell me it's all OK, the police are on their way.

Yeah, but ...

I ...

Wait ... I'm a witness to a crime ...

No, it's OK. You can't stay in here.

Like I say ... I've been to a few crime scenes in my time.

So I climb into the truck and pick up my phone to Tweet the experience -- just as you knew I would.

That's when three Calgary Police Service units pull up. She knocks on my window and says 'are you a witness?'

Yes, ma'am, I am.

We chat for a few minutes and then she asks me to fill out a Witness Statement form.

Within minutes, she's called away to another incident and asks me to ensure I give my form to one of the other officers.

So I'm puttering around, waiting for one of them to come out of the store, when the K-9 unit pulls up. He sees the Witness form in my hand and starts asking me questions, all the while making sure I don't come too close to his dog ... because he's already picking up a scent.

Uber cool. I've never seen the K-9 unit at work before.

And I'm done. I start driving around the Crescent Heights neighbourhood, though, just to see if the guy is still running around, being a jackass.

The 'hood is practically in lockdown, though. CPS pretty much has the area in lockdown with streets closed off by squad cars.

I figure there's not much I can do to help at this stage, so I head home.

But I can't get it out of my head that those other witnesses who left so quickly might have had a better description than me or any of the drug-store employees, might not have had some kind of information that could help the investigation.

Fear is a powerfully motivator, though. In the face of fight-or-flight, they chose to fly.

Maybe it's the reporter in me that made me choose to chase and stay.

Maybe it's that I know the police need every bit of information possible to help.

Without question, I'd rather go to sleep tonight knowing I did everything possible to get one loser off the street.

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