I can’t lie. The sniper shootings pissed me off initially from a selfish perspective. Here I was in the early moments of my junior year in high school, driving to school everyday feeling like the mother*ckin’ king of the universe in my ’97 Mazda 626 with Cam’s Come Home With Me blasting as loud as possible from factory speakers. Everything felt right, until Muhammad and Malvo made the area which became known as “the DMV” their own personal Call of Duty. Only they were the only ones strapped.
Living in Central Virginia, roughly 20 minutes south of Richmond, the two nomad serial killers never struck in or near my hometown. There was rumor they stayed in a hotel about five minutes from my house, but 11 years later who knows how much validity it had. What I do know, however, is the fear it implemented in everybody. Gas stations were ghost towns. I recall one particular instance going to get gas and there was another guy filling up there, too. He quickly selected his grade of fuel, pressed the latch down on the handle so it would automatically fill and laid down in his backseat until it was done. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t do the same exact thing.*
Parents drove their kids to school. People sprinted in and out of groceries stores. No one knew if they were a target and no one could be sure they weren’t. Anyone could “get got.” We begrudgingly checked the news every couple of hours to see if there was a new victim. It was like the bizzaro world of watching Barry Bonds chase 71 home runs. Even when the killings became so frequent that my county closed school for two or three days, we weren’t excited. How could we be? Missing class because of a snow day? That’s one thing. But this? Innocent people were dying (not exactly the newest phenomena, but whatever). There was no honor in boasting of sleeping late on a Wednesday when the reason for it stemmed from Linda Franklin taking one in the neck while standing in a Home Depot parking lot or Pascar Charlot being murdered while simply walking down Georgia Avenue.
As Whitt said, hopelessness was the dominant theme. Blue Caprice should be a movie garnering attention nationwide because it was just that – a story that paralyzed the nation. Yet, for residents who were subjected to court side seats, the film should strike close to home in a way so personal only something like Fruitvale Station could even compare in 2013.
* – Another unique story is a conversation I had with my 11th grade chemistry teacher, Ms. Edwards. I told her, and I quote, “Ain’t no way these killers are black. We’re not serial killers.” Ms. Edwards smiled and simply said, “Let’s not bring stereotypes into this, Tinsley.” Fast forward a few days later when their identities were revealed, Ms. Edwards tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Stereotypes suck, huh?” She later admitted to me years down the road she was just as shocked as I was.