I awoke this morning at 2:56, a time not unusual for me. Normally when I awaken I am fully alert and ready to arise, and this morning was no exception. Immediately after awakening I heard six loud “pops,” the sound of gunfire. No, I did not confuse the sound of firecrackers with gunfire (today is April 6, not July 4), nor did I confuse the sound of auto exhaust backfire with gunfire.
It was gunfire. I am very familiar with the sound, a familiarity developed during 22 years of military service including combat tours in the Korean “Conflict” (1950-1952) and the Viet Nam War (1969-1970), and another 26 years of service as a federal law-enforcement officer.
This morning at 2:56 I heard five “pops” in quick succession, then a pause and then a final “pop.” The sounds came from behind me and to my left, placing their origin in the western portion of the up-scale apartment complex behind my home.
My first thoughts were, “Five quick ones to down the target, then a final one to administer the “coup de grace” (I know what you’re thinking—you’re thinking that I’ve been watching too many gangster movies). Possibly—but I’ll be watching for the report in our local newspaper and on our local “blood and guts” television news channel, and I’ll “get back to you later with more details.”
The gunfire was not followed by a motor being gunned and the sound of screeching tires, so it wasn’t one of San Antonio’s frequent drive-by shootings. Drive-by incidents in apartment complexes are unusual (I don’t recall any in San Antonio) primarily because of the difficulty in executing the numerous high-speed turns required to successfully exit the complex with its crowded and crooked thorough-fares.
Yep, progress has come to North Central San Antonio. Night-time gunfire is common in many neighborhoods in other sections of the city, especially on the near south-side, near east-side and near west-side—sometimes the gunfire comes from private-party goers over-celebrating, or from disputes between individuals but many, perhaps most, incidents are the result of drive-by shootings. Some families in such areas refrain from sleeping in rooms which front the street, and some even refrain from spending too much time in such rooms at other times, even during daylight hours.
Yep, progress has come to the North Central section of San Antonio. At the risk of being politically incorrect and fully realizing that censure may follow, I attribute this particular “progress,” at least partially, to such factors as Hurricane Katrina (people displaced by the disaster and relocated to San Antonio) and to the migration of persons from the inner city to outer sections of the city. Cities grow in concentric circles—newcomers initially are drawn to the inner city, then expand outward as economic conditions permit.
FYI, a civics professor taught me the “concentric circle theory of city growth” in a course I took while attending the Municipal University of Omaha. I was somewhere in the middle of the last class to graduate (1968) before the city college became UNO (University of Nebraska at Omaha).