The Shooter

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Life can get pretty gritty in downtown Los Angeles.

ALEX COHEN, host:

Poet Lewis MacAdams lives just south of the Drew Street area, in downtown Los Angeles, and for the past year or so he's been writing short stories for our program, tales about things he sees in his neighborhood. He calls them his Close to Home stories. This one is called "The Shooter."

Mr. LEWIS MACADAMS (Poet, Close to Home Stories): Lately, I've been saving my Saturday nights for deep rooting. But I knew it was well past time to quit. So last Saturday, I walked over to Main and Fourth to Pete's for a chicken Caesar salad. At the door, I ran into the owner, Tom Gilmore, who was the most charming man in the world. We were chatting away when we noticed a police car, lights flashing, racing the wrong way down Maine Street. Several hundred feet in the air a chopper was already circling, training its search light on a row of building roofs. I went inside and ate, then stopped next door at Old Bank Video, and rented Aaron Lee's "Lust Caution," to see what I could learn.

I was angling down Maine getting ready to turn up Fifth, when I realized the street and the sidewalk had been cordoned off with yellow police tape. A squad car was parked in the middle of the street and a cop wouldn't let anybody pass. I walked to the next intersection, which was blocked by a line of flares that bathed the buildings in a lurid glow. The patrolman at this intersection said that somebody on the roof of a high-rise was taking pot shots at the street below and Spring Street was locked down. Twenty or 30 people were milling around unsure as to what to do. This is definitely not going to play well with the new downtown types, I thought to myself, as the moon played peek-a-boo with the clouds.

Finally, after an hour, the flares went out and the yellow tape came down and I walked up Sixth to Spring. The shooter had been on the roof of the Hayward, a single room occupancy hotel, and many of its residents were in the street. One guy had a bullet casing he'd found on the sidewalk, cupped in the palm of his hand. I was still there when the police came out with the shooter, his hands cuffed behind him - an ordinary looking guy with a big moustache and a thin shirt over a thick belly. None of the hotel residents said they'd ever seen him before. I was looking up at the roof thinking that because our nation usually fights its wars in other peoples' countries, we tend to be attacked by death from the inside, not strolling home from the video store. Then a young woman, college age, walked up, looking anxious like she wanted to get in on the joke. It's just a movie, she said. Right? It's just a movie.

BRAND: That Close to Home story came to us from L.A. based poet, Lewis MacAdams.

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