7-18-2008 Manhunt in Wilkes-Barre

I was on my way from Hazleton to Wilkes-Barre very late yesterday morning, happily bouncing back and forth between Rock 107 and WILK, when I caught something or other on WILK about a manhunt in Wilkes-Barre. Really?

On went the police scanner, and no more Rock 107.

It didn’t take but a few minutes in “Scanner Land” before I realized that something was indeed up. Basically, the Wilkes-Barre frequencies were dead silent. And by design. With few exceptions, all that I heard was police officers telling other police officers to “direct connect” them, an obvious reference to that annoying Nextell walkie-talkie cell phone feature. I had that service about a year ago or so, and I’m here to tell you that I absolutely hated it.

And when I heard yet another officer announce that, from that point on, all 911 non-emergency calls should be held until further notice, I knew the shotguns and automatic weapons were probably not under lock and key anymore. All radio traffic, sparse as it was, was being conducted on the secondary frequencies, while, as he put it, “…while this thing is brewing.”

And in Scanner Land, these sorts of events are very few and very far between. This is things getting deadly serious. This is when, if someone is not very, very careful, they might just get themselves shot while being caught. And in my case, this is when you do not call the police officers you know and ask them what the hell is going on. Especially not the ones who have been training as part of the reconstituted special weapons and tactics squad, or whatever it is that they call it these days. And especially not the ones in Wilkes-Barre who keenly remember that some twenty odd years ago, one of their own was shot during a violent forcible entry. Nah, this was not the time for, “Dude, what’s up?”

At this point, WILK was filling in the details. Yep, a triple homicide went down in Scranton. The suspect was believed to be somewhere in Wilkes-Barre. Local law enforcement agencies of every stripe had established a command center in the parking lot of the Jewelcor Building. State Police helicopters were hovering over the city. And as a result, I called Wifey and told her to keep the front door locked.

The thing is, I was under the impression that the police knew where this guy was, evidenced by the “…while this thing is brewing” comment. Although, when perimeters are established, every once in a while, desperate perps do manage to escape from within that perimeter. And one never really knows where they might suddenly reappear feeling even more desperate. And unlike most of you, I do not want something inexplicably horrible to happen to my wife. She’s a good kid.

Look at it this way. She’s had to put up with the likes of me for 29 years, so sainthood is probably not very far off for her.

From the Times Leader:

WILKES-BARRE – Armed with shotguns and assault rifles, authorities on Thursday raided a High Street home, where they captured a man they say killed three people hours earlier in Scranton.

Randall Rushing, 25, was apprehended at about 4:45 p.m. when a team of state police troopers, FBI agents and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force stormed into 268 High St. during a thunderstorm.

So, the manhunt was no more. And before very long, Scanner Land resumed it’s regularly scheduled show, Imbecility on Parade. I turned the thing on this morning and learned that the police were scouring an area looking for a guy with a turkey sandwich in his pocket. Gruesome murder scenes and extensive manhunts aside, much of what passes as local policing amounts to searching for the guy with the turkey sandwich in his pocket. And thankfully so.

I’ve been quizzed many times about my participating in three police ride alongs in Wilkes-Barre as well as Plains Township. The males think it’s way, way cool and ask how I managed to pull that off. Envy, I think they call it. Typically, the females ask me if I was scared, or why I would bother to pull such a dangerous stunt. Alpha males, they mockingly call us. Put bluntly, the females have it right.

Being a bit of an adventurer, I do not fear for my safety while being out and about with police officers. But I do fully realize that there are probably much, much safer ways to spend a Saturday night after dark. All too often, local policing amounts to moments of peaceful solitude interspersed with moments of massive deficit spending whereas the adrenaline pump is concerned. But, as a willing civilian observer observing from very close up, the thing that always separates the surreal or the sublime from the reality of the situation is when the cabinet is unlocked and the shotguns come out.

Is it sometimes cool and exciting to be a police officer? Hell yes, it is! Is it really cool and exciting when the handguns are eschewed for the automatic weapons and a deadlocked door needs to be breached in an instant? Not at all, but it’s an inherently hazardous job that someone has to do. And in our case here in Wilkes-Barre, we’ve got no shortage of self-motivated people willing to find out what danger lurks behind that deadlocked door.

The turnaround time on this most unfortunate of incidents was impressive. The call to 911 came in before breakfast, and the giddy, alleged triple murderer was in handcuffs before suppertime. And if that’s not what you’d call outstanding police work, you need not comment at all.

I know that WNEP-TV has the helicopter, the slick production and the polished personalities, but WBRE was all over this story right from the very get-go, and until it’s rapid conclusion. More outstanding work.

I uploaded WBRE’s video report. Check out the father of one of the victims promising to get himself thrown into the Lackawanna County hoosegow so as to exact some measure of revenge. Compelling video, or what?

“…I get him…”

Manhunt in Wilkes-Barre (6:35)

And since a certain agenda-driven local talk show host keeps unmercifully bashing Wilkes-Barre upside the head, while pretending that Scranton is paved with marshmallows, the homes are made of gingerbread and the residents are all accredited Eagle Scouts, I fired off an e-mail to him.

From the e-mail outbox Hey Rodham Corbett,

A triple homicide in Scranton?

Gee whiz, you'd better take another quick stroll through South Wilkes-Barre and tell us how completely dangerous it has gotten since you vamoosed. We wouldn't want to give your dolt-dominated audience the correct impression that what once plagued Wilkes-Barre's neighborhoods (Note: past tense) now plaques Scranton's flailing neighborhoods. Wouldn't want to do that.

And make sure not to mention that, while Wilkes-Barre has added two full platoons worth of police officers since 2004, Scranton, a financially plundered city in serious, serious hock, is all but poised and ready to layoff countless police officers, as well as 38 firefighters.

Less cops, more idiots. Nifty. Make sure you suck up to Mayor Chris Doherty the next time you have him on the line.

By the way, did they catch the guy who recently shot up the downtown housing project? No? Oh, well. That's okay, since Scranton is beyond safe and Wilkes-Barre is Kabul minus the burned-out T-54 Soviet tanks. Right?

Oh, and don't give me any hollow jive about any perceived lack of compassion on my part. If feigned compassion was a tradable commodity, you'd be the richest know-it-all to ever have told us how we should live, what we should eat, how we should behave, how not to repeat your numerous mistakes and how we should think.

Anyway, I warned you. I did. You just had to keep on bashing on Wilkes-Barre simply because Mayor Tom Leighton won't ask how high when you shout jump. You had to keep it up with the journalistic bully routine. I warned you about the South Side. I really did. And now Scranton gets the homicidal black eye times three, so, you had better abruptly divert from that that awful news and remind your listeners...once again...that Wilkes-Barre sucks.

You know, if you were completely honest with yourself, you'd admit that your agenda-driven self-aggrandizement sleepwalk tour through life is what gives you the most pride, but simultaneously makes you look absolutely foolish to those of us still holding out against paying for satellite radio.

So, when can I expect the next undeserved hatchet job on Wilkes-Barre? Tomorrow?

A triple homicide in Scranton?

What starts with an J and ends with an A...S...S?

Markie in Merrittville (Formerly Nord End) a dojo-free community

I received no response, and none was expected from the all-knowing one. Turns out, he’s turning into a big whiner ala Kevin Lynn. You know the tired complaint, those people on the internet say bad things about me. Boo hoo hoo. If only Nancy Pelosi would have those people rounded up and flogged until their toenails bleed. Those people on the internet…they say horrible things about me. And god only knows, only the radio talk show hosts who fancy themselves as journalists should be able to cast aspersions upon others.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. I worked at a newspaper and they didn’t. So, they should be made to be silent. I guess the MOAB shot over David Foglietta’s bow was just the beginning of the soon-to-be continuing War on Internet Terrorists.

Nancy, can’t you do something about these bloggers? They say bad things about me. The kind of stuff I say about other people. Can’t we take all of them to the local magistrate?

Despite the martial arts, despite the swords, despite the overt machismo and despite the over-worn I-could-kill-you-but-I-won’t-cause-I’m-all-grown-up-now reminders, the ultimate tough guy has suddenly taking to whining.

Excerpted from Corbett’s Corner:

I’m saddened every time I pass that once majestic house on that once majestic block. And in my mind I’ll always see the young woman’s body lying beneath a white sheet in the street six doors from my home. She died in a drug deal crossfire while her children screamed in the car for their mommy.

My last memories of living in Wilkes-Barre are not good.

Okay, so, will NEPA’s resident Wilkes-Barre basher be all filled with remorse and regret and reflexively wring his do-gooder hands after the yellow crime scene tape is removed from in front of 1604 S. Irving Avenue, Scranton? Will he wax poetic about how he can’t get the images of Irving Avenue out of his head?

Will he take a step back from his factually vapid and ongoing Chris Doherty love fest and wonder aloud about the obvious dubiousness that would be, and very possibly could be reducing the manpower allocated to Scranton’s police department?

I seriously doubt it. Most likely, he’ll run to Nancy and complain about those dastardly bloggers who can see right through his purposefully useless web of deceit. To the local magistrate with the lot of them!

But I’ll leave him with two painfully simple questions.

With societal decay advancing on as it currently is, will Scranton be better served with less police officers?

And, why can’t you admit that what troubles you the most about Wilkes-Barre is the fact that our mayor could care less what you think, what you need and what you think you might know?

Answer me that, you clueless know-it-all.

All I know is, while the irreversibly damaged results of piss-poor parenting are running all amok in nearly every community, my community has been seriously bolstering it’s commitment to keeping the peace. And Scranton?

Well, Scranton, with it’s oft-patched financial wheels finally going flat, Scranton is going the other way: backwards.

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark,

I thought you'd find this article interesting:

Motel owner sues W-B over closure

The Owner of the Red Carpet Inn (aka the No-Tell Motel) is suing Wilkes-Barre over its closure back in 2006. The reason why this article stuck out in my mind was because of your recent ride along with Wilkes-Barre City Police. I believe there were photos of inside the motel which showed it to be an utter disaster/pigsty/whatever you want to call it. I'm sure it didn't look like this bad in 2006, but was it really that far off? I can't cite any sources, but I do read the TL's police blotter everyday. There were tons o' arrests/drugs and other illegal activities going on in there. Not to mention these code violations.

It needed to be shut down then, and it needs to be totally demolished to get rid of the lingering riff raff. Its not fit for human living. I can't believe this guy is starting a law suit over it. It makes no sense why he would wait until the Motel was shut down to complain he didn't any time to fix the code violations. Shouldn't he have been proactively fixing them all along? Ridiculous. I hope this gets tossed right out of court.

Anyway, take care. I always come for the pics of the grandrodents. The one with them on the police car is too funny.

Michelle (of mhryvnak.net)

PS - Thanks for the bee shout out. The hive has been eliminated!

Yep, Wilkes-Barre erred in closing this one. Yeah!

That was very perceptive of you, the motel angle.

First of all, I have a ton of pictures taken in that complex when last I rode with a member of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department. Although, it was pointed out to me at the conclusion of that ride that the pictures I took that night were taken without the permission of the police department. In other words, they were not to be published without talking to the Captain in charge of that sort of stuff.

So as not to be any sort of further burden, I didn’t bother to call her, and I published only the pictures I was sure no one would object to. Truth be told, I got some really, really neat pictures, but you’ll never see them unless you show up here with a case of cold beer.

The thing is, the only reason local politicians talk to me, and the only reason I’m allowed to do what most people aren’t allowed to do (police rides, building tours and the like) is because they trust me to do the right thing. If the police say the pictures can’t get published, then they don’t get published. And when the elected official gives me the scoop of a lifetime, but qualifies it by saying, “This is off the record,” well, then I resign myself to the fact that while I could have scooped the local newspapers, I chose not to.

I have never breached their trust. Not even once. And believe me, it does get old. It gets old turning your back on those “scoops.” It gets old not using the pictures you know to be the absolute, what I like to call, keepers. It just gets old having to bite one’s internet lip all of the time. But without that self-imposed restraint, the behind-the-scenes building tours, the police ride-alongs and the easy access to the movers and shakers would come to an abrupt halt. They know they can trust me to do the responsible thing.

Jeez, if people only knew what I knew, when I knew it and well before the newspapers knew of it, they’d sh*t tiny pebbles destined to grow into full-blown rocks. Thing is, I need nor seek no celebrity. All that I ever sought was a vastly improved city in which to live. And to that end, I feel satisfied with all that I stupidly and recklessly endeavored to do once upon a time.

As far as the lawsuit and the motel’s closing is concerned, I was there, on the scene, when Wilkes-Barre ordered it closed on July 24, 2006. And because the motel’s owners were then the customers of my employer, I am, again, very, very limited as to what I can disclose about what I saw there that day. And, as always, I took a ton of pictures, which I knew I could not publish. Revert back to the aforementioned case of cold beer, ‘iffin you want to see any of them.

I could tell you what went on there that day, but I’d be violating all sorts of written and assumed confidentially agreements. I could tell you what went on there that day, but I might find myself testifying in court, as well as breaching the trust of my employer. I could tell you what went on there that day, but then I’d have to snuff the joy out of you. And nobody wants that.

Let’s just suffice it to say that the lawsuit is to being legitimate what German Cockroaches are to being immensely popular.

Oh, and the grandrodents arrest picture? You know, there are those times when I crack myself up. The thing is, while my grandkids fully understand that police officers will crack open your skull if you force them to, they also understand, even at their not-so-advanced ages, that police officers are the only thing standing between them and what they call “the bad people.” And being the time-tested bikeabout veterans that they are, they’ve seen quite a few of the bad people in action. Uh, right before they were taken into custody.

I am supremely happy that my grandkids not only trust and respect the police, they also know some of them on a first-name basis. Pop Pop is cool and all. Yeah, he takes you bicycling. Sure, he manages to get you tucked into a kayak the size of western Idaho. He exposes you to much as he can, and to what your parents might not be so keen on having you exposed to. Skipping rocks, lighting firecrackers and shooting B-B guns comes to mind.

Thing is, while I’m a direct blood relative and I would die before I’d see anything bad happen to any of them, so would any of the many police officers they have met along the many bumpy bikeabout trails. My grandkids know that. And in my denuded mind, every little kid should know that.

Stay in touch.


Good boys, good boys…what'chu gonna do