So, at least I can now say that I know what it's like to be at the end of a loaded firearm.
Last night I fell asleep at at about nine, something I've done not in a while. I didn't mean to. I just put my head down and crashed. But, I usually only get about five to six hours of sleep a night, so I popped right back up at around 2:30 or so, and could not go back under.
After an hour of laying there I decided to get up, and went downstairs into my basement office. I decided to watch Chuck, which I missed last Monday. More on that later. I goofed off for a while, hoping I'd get tired again.
At about 4:30 or so, my dog started barking in the space above my head. He was very agitated. This annoyed me an awful lot, as I'm sure it was bothering my wife. He usually growls anytime there's a cat outside, which is a lot. Sometimes a dog or some other critter will get into our mud room. Billy was upset, and Amy opened the door to the basement and cried down for me.
"There's someone on the back deck with a flashlight," she said.
I didn't believe her at first. But, my neighborhood has been having a rash of burglaries, loud parties, and a lot more people wandering around then there used to be. Three weeks ago, a drunk guy broke into our across-the-street neighbor's house to sleep. So, I went upstairs, in only my boxers, quickly trying to assimilate what she had said. I tried to think if it was real, partially thinking she was dreaming.
But, why would she make something like that up? My heart was thumping. I knew that something was happening, and in the next few seconds, life was going to change. I grabbed a walking stick that belonged to Amy's father. I could hear rustling noises outside the door leading to our mudroom, which leads to our back deck.
"Open the door!" someone shouted from the other side.
"No! Who are you? Go away!"
"Open the door immediately!"
"No way! Not until I know who you are!"
"Charlottesville Police Department! Open the door!"
"I don't believe you! I'm not opening this door!"
Would you? People will say anything. It was my back door. Why would there be police officers in my back door, in my mud room? What was going on?
"Open the door immediately sir!" the man shouted. I could see powerful lights coming from the cracks of the door, and so I decided to take a risk and open the door, clutching the walking stick in my right hand, ready to use it, somehow, if I had to protect my wife and daughter.
So, I opened the door, and was staring at a man in black with a rifle pointed at my face. I could only see the man's silhouette, as there was a bright powerful flash light, but I could make out his weapon.
"Let me see your hands!" shouted the officer. I was still clutching the stick in my right hand. I immediately dropped the stick and opened the door all the way to show that I wasn't armed. The police officer had been ready to shoot, but he lowered his gun. He didn't take both hands off of it, though. Right behind him were two other men, possibly more.
"What's going on?"
This is the part where I'm not quite sure what I heard. He either said that there was a report of a break-in in the house behind ours, or there was a report of a suspicious person trying to break in. I was a little unclear, and still trying to figure out what was going on. The officer explained they had seen that the door to our mudroom was open, and assumed that their suspect had forced their way into my house. They told me I should keep my doors shut. We usually do, but it's an easy thing to do when you live in a place you assume is safe.
And now? I don't believe it's very safe at all. I don't know what to think about the police, who left a few minutes later without saying they were sorry for disturbing me and my wife. I don't know how to feel. On the one hand, I feel protected that the police are trying to catch a potential criminal. On the other, I now know what it's like to have a gun drawn on me, in my own home, in the middle of the night.
After they left, my wife wouldn't stop shaking. I was fairly calm about it, though it took a while for my heart to return to normal.
I should have asked for their names and badge numbers, just to get it on record. Just to have someone to follow up to know exactly what kind of a call they are on.
I am glad I was awake, because I don't know what the outcome would have been if I were asleep, still in the throes of dream logic. I can imagine myself being more belligerent. I can imagine myself not really thinking straight, groggy, less inclined to cooperate.
And what if I had been armed, as is my constitutional right? Would the presence of a gun have escalated things more, me very quickly the victim of mistaken identity? You hear about it happening fairly often, no-knock raids on the wrong house. I'm very sure that kind of thing can happen here.
What if they had seen my wife peeking through the windows, and trained the gun on her? What if she reacted poorly to that, and they assumed she was their suspect? She's pregnant, and freaks easily.
I want to repeat that I don't know if the police officers were right or wrong. In my head, I don't see why they wouldn't have gone to the front door first. Is it a crime to have an open door? The door sometimes sticks, and re-opens. What was their thought process? Did they also look into my outdoor shed, which also has an open door? If so, was that a violation of my constitutional rights?
I really don't know. But, I'm curious to know what you think.