When Violence gets too close

Last Sunday night I arrived home about 9 pm after a very long day (12 hours) at work. All I had on my mind was getting home, feeding the cats and kicking back so you can imagine how I felt when I reached my street only to see it blocked off by the police.

I tried going around the block and coming down my street from the other side thinking to go into my parking lot the “back way” but that was blocked too. The cruiser blocking the street was running with its lights on but no one was in it. About this time a large pick up truck came out of the street and maneuvered around the cruiser to exit. I flagged the driver down and asked him what was going on.

He said the police had shot an old man at the corner of Winthrop and Highland. He said he had gotten close enough to see that the man was on the ground but still alive. The man said he heard that the injured man had attacked the police officer with a knife.

I went back to my car and tried another side street. This one was blocked by the Animal Control Van but at least the officer was in the van. I explained that I lived in the condo complex and asked if I could go in. He backed out-of-the-way and motioned me through. He smiled and didn’t seem particularly upset.

I thought of going over to see if I could get a picture for this space and get more details but I was really tired and just figured I’d only be turned away. I don’t have any press credentials or anything like that.  I spoke to a couple of the neighbors but no one seemed to have any more information than I did. Nothing came on the news that night or the next morning.

When I picked my friend and her family up for our day on the Cape, she mentioned that the victim was a 64-year-old man who was a cancer survivor who needed a mechanical larynx to talk. I knew immediately who she was talking about then. He is one of my neighbors from the next building. He is disabled but maintained an electrical contractors license and I had hired him for work in my unit when I first moved in. At the time I thought he was a little strange but chalked it up to what he had to go through in his life. “Ernie” was always pleasant enough and would always wave when I saw him.

I wasn’t aware of his history but according to the Taunton Daily Gazette, he had a history with the police and had been involuntarily committed in the past. There was some speculation that Ernie was trying to commit “suicide by cop”. Witnesses  said Ernie flagged the patrol car down and then approached the officer while he was still in the cruiser. When Ernie reached the side of the cruised he pulled out a knife and tried to stab the officer. The police officer pulled away and into the condo complex and called for back up. In the meantime Ernie came at the officer again and refused to drop the knife. That is when the officer shot him.

These things are supposed to happen somewhere else to other people, not to people I know. I feel very bad for Ernie as he must have been very distressed to try that and I also feel for the officer. My brother is a police officer and I know an incident like that would be very traumatic for him.

It just shows that you never know what or where violence can spring up. This time is was way to close for my taste.


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