I had visited him a couple days earlier and had said so long. He was slated to go to San Francisco en route to L.A. But early Friday he phoned to tell me he never got farther than Portland on the train on which he was riding. He explained that 33 freight cars had derailed in Oregon and his passenger train could not proceed on to San Francisco.
All of the passengers were compelled to disembark. After a wait of 3 hours they were sent on a train back to Seattle. Space from Seattle to San Francisco was not available until Tuesday. So I suggested we get together for dinner. We agreed to meet at the Hotel Moore lobby between 5 and 6.
I took a bus from the Queen Anne area of Seattle, where I live. Mysteriously there was a long wait. I thought nothing of it until the bus finally came, but was flagged down at nearby Seattle Center, where the 1962 Seattle World's Fair was held. I had attended that fair with this same friend I was meeting.
I had walked just a block and it was still about 15 blocks to my destination of the Moore Hotel. I heard someone say, "It's a sniper. It's dangerous downtown." A sniper? Dear God, what next?
I thought Seattle was a perfect place to live. The intelligence of its population was rated at the top of any U.S. city. During December 2005 I fled Florida after Hurricane Katrina and Wilma hit Fort Lauderdale.
Shortly after I moved to Seattle some monster from Montana shot and killed 7 young people at a rave party in the city's historic Capitol Hill section. He finished his shooting spree by committing suicide.
Various house fires occurring locally have been shown frequently on the local nightly news. Million dollar homes that were under construction were torched. This occurred in an atmosphere where neighbors had objected to the new construction, complaining that the homes might block their views.
Young drag racers in fancy cars often end up dead and are featured on local newscasts. A librarian and her daughter went for a hike in a nearby park and were killed.
As if that was not enough for my brief time living in Seattle, a couple of weeks ago a drug rehab man moved to a quiet town near Seattle and stabbed to death a mother and her three children, then set the house afire.
I began to see that Ann Rule, the famous local Seattle true crime writer, had a wealth of material in her native city.
If crime on the streets was not bad enough, a recent headline for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer read: "Report Blasts Boeing Contract." The contract in question is one of 32 security deals "plagued by waste, abuse." The CEO's have apparently been working overtime on slimy profit-making schemes.
Now a sniper tragedy in downtown Seattle!
People nervously darted around alleys to reach their destinations. Police cordoned off main streets beginning at Virginia Street. Police cars were sometimes racing full speed ahead through downtown traffic.
I had to go up Virginia Street to reach the Moore Hotel. As I made my detour I heard someone says, "Macy's has closed!" Shutting down one of the city's major department stores on a Friday afternoon again underscored the gravity of the scene.
I continued hearing people talk nervously about "The Sniper" while being unable to supply details on his identity or what had triggered the shooting spree he unleashed. The prevailing uncertainty only heightened the tense nervousness enveloping people throughout downtown Seattle.
I arrived late at the Moore Hotel. Yellow police tape was in conspicuous evidence at the corner of the street where the hotel was located. I walked past this scene and stepped into the hotel lobby. The tape was located only 100 feet from where I entered the hotel.
"I figured you'd be late because of the sniper," my friend said. "It wasn't enough to be involved in a train wreck, but now a sniper! What next?"
"You'll enjoy dinner at one of the nicest Italian restaurants in downtown Seattle," I assured him, sympathizing with his plight.
At dinner our young female server informed us that the sniper was a Muslim man who had been horrified over the recent killings in the Middle East. I later learned after returning home and viewing the local late evening television news that the sniper had gone to the downtown Seattle Jewish Center and had shot 6 women, killing 1. The sniper was diagnosed as "bipolar" but managed to purchase 2 guns.
It was a mini 9/11 tragedy all over again. On Saturday morning's CNN News I heard that 10,000 citizens were still trapped in Lebanon, dodging bombs. Meanwhile Bush, Blair and Condoleezza Rice fantasize that apparently killing must continue to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East.
How ignorant, how heartless, how foolish can these leaders be? The Muslims still remember the Christian Crusades, whose legions marched with self-righteous, triumphant slaughter through Lebanon. This conduct was later duplicated with a mass slaughter of the citizenry of Jerusalem, all carried out in the name of God.
The consequences of the current misguided killing spree will be horrifying. No amount of hand washing will remove the stain of blood on the hands of the killers. Their vengeful violent legacy will become history as history tragically repeats itself.
During World War One the prevailing propaganda identified the conflict as "the war to end all wars." As Beirut and Hezbollah are bombed the propaganda pitch is that all of this killing and destruction will achieve a "sustainable peace."
KEYWORDS: Seattle Sniper Shootings, Recent Seattle Crime Tragedies, Ann Rule, The Middle East Conflict, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice
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