A gang dispute at Eastland Mall Saturday evening that left two men shot had many shoppers on edge the following afternoon.Followed by the least surprising line in all of local journalism:
After a verbal altercation between two groups, shots were fired sending shoppers ducking for cover.You can throw "about a girl" or "about shoes" after "two groups." You would probably be right. It doesn't even matter.
Harper Woods officers responded to Eastland this evening on reports of shots being fired. Officers were informed that a group of young men were acting disorderly on a bus and the bus driver ordered them off.Do not confuse these with September's murder at the mall.
One of the group left the bus and shot a handgun at least three times at the bus as it was driving away. No one was injured in the incident, the bus did sustain damage from the bullets that were fired.
Eastland Mall is about a mile from my house. It is 300 yards from where my mother worked for over thirty years. I spent a fair amount of time there over the course of my life. On top of a decent array of stores, the mall sported two movie theaters, a ticketmaster in the basement (for picking up $8 Pistons playoff tickets when the Pistons did things like "playoffs"), a decent food court (for quick lunches during our 15 minute lunch period in high school, and the all-purpose Macy's. My grandmother went (goes?) there to walk the mall from time to time.
Now, two human beings and a bus have been shot at the Mall in two or three incidents over the course of 24 hours. I'm not even sure if it has a food court anymore. I believe it, like the two movie theaters in the mall and a third movie theater across the street, has closed because it became the scene of too many fights, and people didn't want to go anymore. I'm not sure what stores the mall currently has, but there's nothing I'm particularly interested in. As one of my friends put it, "I don't even know what's there. I haven't been in the actual mall part since at least 2005." The mall isn't a casualty of the economy. The decline started before the tech bubble burst and was basically finished before the housing bubble burst.
I left home in 2003 and returned in 2010 with plans to stay for a month or two, and then flee this state like everybody else who values their life. Those plans changed, and now I've spent the overwhelming majority of my time over the past few months in my old hometown. Over the course of my four months here, I've realized more and more how much things have changed.
And it's really depressing. It's depressing to watch places you spent a lot of time at as a kid become uninhabitable. It's depressing to watch the houses of some old friends sit vacant year after year, but I guess that's less depressing than seeing them turn into drug houses.
I'm not alone in noticing this. The Saturday shooting (awesome that I have to specify which shooting I'm referring to now) touched off a conversation with a couple of my friends. We all had stories. One woke up one day to find four out of five bolts removed from his tires, saved only by the lock bolt. Another was told by a police officer, "If people knew exactly what went on in this city, there would be a mass exodus." Stories of weird goings-on were shared, like the time a buddy was leaving for work at 5:30am and stumbled upon a guy walking down the street screaming into his cell phone, "I'm on the second block from the freeway! The second block!"
I guess the whole thing doesn't bother me that much, since I'll be outta here soon enough. But it's sad nonetheless. My dad grew up on the east side of Detroit. I wonder if my experience with my childhood home is going to mirror his. My mom grew up in this city. I wonder how she feels watching all this happen.
But I feel bad for other people as well. I feel bad for the decent people who moved here to get away from this sort of crap. I feel bad for the people who were just trying to do a little Christmas shopping and ended up dodging bullets. Like this woman:
"I won't say that it scares me, but I guess I have to be aware of my surroundings," said Betty Jean Chapel, a 40-year-old Detroit resident who was squeezing in some Christmas shopping Sunday. "I will have to come to the store - not just here, but any store - get what I need and leave."And this guy:
Calvin Turner, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran, said the incident was unfortunate and showed young people are willing to commit violent acts for "no reason at all." The Detroit resident said he thinks the malls in his city need to increase their security presence in general.Who must feel terrible about risking his life to for a country and then having to watch a bunch of idiots have so little regard for life that they start shooting at will inside a mall.
Although he is a little off base with his second sentence. I'm sure he was misquoted, but if he is a Detroit resident, then he needn't worry about the "malls in his city" because there are none. I think you can figure out why. And his plea is rather sad:
"I think there should be more uniformed officers on-site that you can see," Turner said. "More visibility will deter the crime."So that's what we need now? A small army to protect us when we shop? This guy feels that's what is needed. And I can't say he's wrong after this weekend.
But I know I'm done with Eastland and pretty happy that I'm getting out of here soon. Yes, I know, "violence can happen anywhere," which is something both absolutely true and absolutely BS, at least if you pay any attention at all to frequency, probability and trends. But I don't want to beat cancer just so I could get hit with a stray bullet aimed at somebody else.