When we wage war, we often do it with ourselves. Whether it be second-guessing critical choices, or diverting our mind's attention to something less intrusive. Yeah, that's vague. But, sometimes a war is waged on us, and the limits of control are bursting at the seams, begging the question: What happens when it happens to me? So, I thought I'd share my first run-in with Albuquerque police and SWAT.
So, I'm sure that it's no news to people that an armed robber was gunned down near Menaul and Louisiana on March 5th after fleeing from police. I believe the breaking news article focused on businesses in the area being on lockdown as police and SWAT were in pursuit of said robber. Living in the area, approximately smack-dab in the middle of the guarded perimeter which spanned several blocks, I was unable to get into my apartment building upon returning from a grocery-shop excursion.
As my roommate and I tried to turn into our street, a police officer (that reminded me of a young Ed Harris) told us that we had to turn around and find another way home. Pointing to our building, my roommate said, “But we live right there, like RIGHT THERE!” The officer kindly replied, “I'm sorry ma'am, but it's a SWAT stand-off. Can't let anyone through.”
We turned around and went down another road, only to find that it was also being blocked by police. Clearly, they had the entire neighborhood in check. We parked about two houses down from the officer, so that we could see her leave, and we'd know the streets were safe, and we could finally put the lingering perishables in a safe, cozy freezer. To pass the time, we read breaking news reports and ascertained the situation.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, while helicopters flew overhead and seeing several cars get rejected and told to turn around, my roommate looks at me and says, “I'll love you forever if you get down and ask the cop what's going on.” At first, I was a bit hesitant, because with my luck, the robber would have come out the moment I stepped out of the vehicle and used me as a body shield. But, after a moment, I said, “okay,” and got out of the car.
I walked over to a young female officer, and politely said, “Hello … I live right over there in that apartment building, and my roommate and I were wondering about how long do you think you guys are going to be here.” Right after the words left my lips, we heard several gunshots being fired. Without losing her composure or the polite smile on her face, the officer said, “It shouldn't be too much longer.”
After some careful maneuvering, my roommate and I circled the surrounding area, noticing they stopped blocking the entrance to the Sheraton hotel on Louisiana and Menaul. So, we entered the parking lot, drove around back in an attempt to exit the back parking lot, which sits directly across the street from our building. When we got there, we were disappointed to see that it, too, had been blocked off, and officers with assault rifles walked by our car, not even noticing us.
“I think we're in the shit now,” I said. My roommate, clearly one to panic, held her composure and actually got out of the car and told an officer the situation (It being that we were literally across the street from our building and just wanted to get home and put our groceries away). The kind officer said he couldn't remove the tape to let us drive through, but that we could walk across the street and go home. Needless to say, we went home, picked up a grocery basket (my building has several in a downstairs closet), and we walked back across the street and got our groceries.
Upon entering the gate of our apartment building, we found our maintenance guy outside, drinking a Bud Light as he scoped out the situation. As we walked by, he said, “They got him.” “Oh, they did?” we asked. “Yeah, they shot him right over there, see where all those guys are standing?” We turned and saw several armed officers standing in a group on Chama Street (though we'd later discover that this wasn't actually the location where the man was killed).
After settling in our apartment and taking several trips to the balcony to see what was going on (like true nosey Mexicans), we finally went to bed. Upon later reading about the incident, I found out that the deceased's name was Parrish Dennison, and read that he had several ties to white supremacist gangs. Now, a life is a life. Regardless of your beliefs or your political standing, every life lost is always a tragedy.
As human beings, we make choices. While some decisions we make may not always reflect our most innate goodness, every human being has multiple layers that complete the indelible picture we present to people. Dennison chose to rob homes and died for what news reports said was “a guitar and a banjo.” Yet, I learned from a very early age that death is one of those inevitable, inconceivable situations that comes around to teach you the value of living. So, on that note, I say thank you, Mr. Dennison. While you may no longer be with us, you reminded me of that value.