Even a couple of hard-charging Firestone deputies could hit a dry spell now and then.
This was the result, we always reasoned, of someone having pissed off the arrest gods.
Darrell Griffith and I were partners on the early morning shift. Half redneck, half martial artist, the “Ninja Hillbilly” was as good a partner as anyone could want. And on this particular slow night, it was he who declared we had no choice but to offer up a sacrifice.
In Search of the Whopper
We needed to reel in a little bitty one, he said, something we would normally toss back into the murky waters of Watts in order to hook a whopper.
There had been several opportunities for us, misdemeanor arrests that could have been made during any one of our stops and contacts throughout the evening. Perhaps, the hillbilly surmised, we had jinxed ourselves by ignoring them. Simply put, we had pissed off the arrest gods.
Insert Beverly Hillbillies Song Here
“They said north of Slauson is the place you ought to be, so we loaded up our car at fifty-five and Long Beach… Pueblos, that is… Bounty Hunters, Bishop Bloods…”
But we hadn’t made it to the Pueblos (housing project) when the arrest gods put before us a drunk driver, one so spectacularly reckless that he couldn’t be ignored. The hunt for bigger fish would have to wait.
We activated our forward red light, but the driver was unmoved. Then the rotators, all the lights twirling at once casting beams of red and blue throughout the night. Still nothing.
Finally, as our siren wailed, the driver bounced over a sidewalk at Central and 59th Place and came to a stop at the mouth of the north/south alley east of Central.
An Offering to the Arrest Gods
There were three occupants, each inebriated beyond any need for field sobriety tests. The truth was, we would be lucky to get them out of their car and into the back of ours without having to carry them one at a time. I hooked the driver and put him in our car. The two passengers were uncooperative and too drunk to care for themselves. Since we were making a sacrifice, we might as well sweeten the pot and take all of them to jail.
Two of the three were handcuffed and in the back seat of our radio car. The hillbilly was hooking up the third drunk when a series of gunshots rang out.
Sonic cracks snapped over our heads and we dove for cover behind the drunk driver’s car.
We had our guns pointed up the alley in the direction from where the gunshots had come. There were several people milling about, young men and women looking in our direction but showing no signs of urgency. It was a little bizarre, to be honest, and neither of us could figure out whom to shoot back at.
I put out a request for assistance and we charged up the alley and detained the small group of loiterers.
Someone had been Shooting
It didn’t seem that any of these people had shot at us, given their casual demeanor and the fact that none of them had fled. Maybe someone had shot at them, and we just happened to be downrange.
As these thoughts went through my mind, I noticed a lowered Impala farther up the alley. The motor fired up and its lights came on. This was the type of car in which gangsters were often found.
My partner and I ran up the alley, our gun barrels now directed at the occupants of this car. We arrived at the Impala and yelled more of that magical police stuff, “hands up, blah, blah, blah…” as several units arrived to assist us.
Three gangsters were taken into custody pending further investigation. We searched the car but found no guns, though the ignition was “punched” and a screwdriver had been used as a key. A man emerged from a nearby house and said, “Hey, that’s my car!”
Now we had six in custody: a drunk driver and his two drunk friends, and three car-thieving Florencia gang members. But we had found no guns. Someone had shot at us, and we still had no idea who.
Back to the Beginning
We returned to the first group in the alley who had remained in place, likely enjoying the show. A more thorough search of the area resulted in our locating expended cartridge cases near them.
When confronted with this evidence, several in the group confessed that the shooter had gone over the fence. There was a detached garage with a door that stood partly open.
Inside, a man appeared to be asleep on a couch. But in the beams of our flashlights, we could see that he was sweating and also breathing hard. My partner and I trained our weapons on about the twelfth person in a matter of minutes.
We detained the sleepy man, and, voila, a pistol was recovered from beneath the cushion on which he had lain. Upon inspection, we saw that the serial number of the gun had been removed. That made it a felony, regardless of whether or not this man and his gun were related to the shooting that had just occurred in the alley.
But it was evident that the weapon had been recently fired, and only a couple live rounds remained in its magazine.
The caliber of the gun matched the expended cartridge casings we had located in the alley. This was our shooter!
The Arrest God Smiled Upon Us
Now we had seven in custody, four felony hooks thanks to our sacrificial misdemeanor arrests. Though such offerings and blessings were often made in jest, there is no doubt that the arrest gods had smiled upon us that night.
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