Monday, January 26, 2015

An Interesting Month

  It’s been a busy month in Marshalltown Iowa – the All-American city I call home. The last time I wrote about Marshalltown concerned the controversy surrounding the suspension of a high school football player for three games after pictures were posted on social media of him making a ‘White Power’ W hand gesture. The lawsuit is proceeding apace, the suspension was reduced to two games by the Iowa High School Athletic Association (don’t ask me why), and High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay has tendered his resignation to take a job with the Des Moines school district as the assistant director of the Central Campus. Phomvisay had been absent for months from his principal duties and if the Central Campus has a football team I hope for his sake he has learned from his Marshalltown experiences and will not cross swords with King Football anymore.

  Last month Vince at the Jiffy was robbed at knifepoint while working the overnight shift. Convenience store clerks are trained to put their large bills in a drop safe so the robber only got a little bit of money and as many cigarettes as he could carry out. Four days later the Kum & Go convenience store got robbed by the same people but this time the crook and his accomplice were caught and arrested. There’s a robbery in the local convenience stores every couple of years but this one was different because the criminals (the robber and his getaway girlfriend) were caught.

  In last year’s post I mentioned how Marshalltown was at the top of the Google search rankings for ‘Iowa Corpse Abuse’ and now the town has another top Google rank – this time for ‘Iowa dousing people with gasoline’. On January 14th, Eddie De Los Santos was having a domestic disturbance with his girlfriend and her mother when he doused them with gasoline and set them on fire which unsurprisingly caused a fire in the apartment building less than half a mile from my house. De Los Santos is currently in custody and many of the convenience stores in town have cans set up for donations for the burn victims.

You'll know your town is going downhill when the shootings DON'T make the news...

  Those cans didn’t last very long as they were soon replaced by cans soliciting donations for Dedrikk Fisher, a 20 year old man who was shot to death on January 18th on the 1200 block of W. Church Street, a very far away mile and a half from my home. There was a candlelight vigil for Fisher and the suspect (Jose Morales) was swiftly identified and a city wide hunt was on for him. Marshalltown has a few murders every year. I don’t think too much about the crime rate in town. I’ve been parking my car on the street for the past 20 years and once got a bb dent in a door. My neighbor’s house to the south was broken four years ago but I think that was by someone they knew based on the people that were hanging around their kids and that a window was broken and a game system stolen within a few minutes. I’m not saying that I leave my doors and windows open and unlocked when I not home but getting my car windows broken in New Jersey was a every couple of year occurrence and murders rarely made the front page of the paper so I don’t think too much of a couple of murders or robberies.

I went to get my mail and a SWAT party broke out up the block...

  I was working at home on Thursday. I was on the phone with a customer around 3pm and walked out the front door to check the mail. There was no mail but there was a roadblock on the corner and some police cars and one of those camouflage SWAT trucks. The customer on the phone was from Iowa and knew all about the recent news and wanted me to send him a picture of the roadblock. I took a couple of pictures and posted them to Facebook and went back to work.

  At 5pm when Kathy and I went out to take Daisy and Baxter for their walk the street was still cordoned off and there was over 100 people hanging out by the roadblocks. People of all ages, races, languages, and religions were talking to each other like old friends speculating about what was going on and what was going to happen next. There were cars parked on both sides of the street for blocks. Everyone thought that the suspected murderer was holed up in one of the houses but I suggested that maybe someone stole Marshalltown’s All-American City awards and the SWAT team was needed to get it back.

Who needs cable when you have this kind of entertainment up the street?

  I had a meeting at 6:30. When I went to leave the street was still cordoned off and even more people were hanging around. I didn’t want to lose the parking space in front of my house so I slipped down the alleyway and took my Kia Rio out of the garage for a rare trip around town. When I got back an hour later I could hear popping sounds coming from up the block. It sounded a lot more like the machines at the ball games that shoot hot dogs and t-shirts into the crowd than gunfire so I assumed that teargas canisters were being fired. When I got to the front of the house the same crowd was still there talking about whether they could smell the teargas or not so I knew my guess was right.

  The story in the paper the next day said that 30 tear gas canisters were fired into the house up the block at 514 N Center St but Jose Morales was not found in the house. Morales was arrested the next day on the south side of town. So that was the month in Marshalltown and it was all pretty depressing except for the impromptu block party that broke out during the SWAT raid up the block. It was such a busy month that I never even got the chance to talk about the police shooting and killing of an armed man down the block from the Jiffy the week before Christmas. This was during the height of concern over police shootings in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York but once it was determined the victim was armed and not a minority it became old news quickly.