Light & Shadow #16

Irony — Caldwell, ID Circa 1989

The newspapers I worked for were in smaller, quiet communities where hard news was comparatively rare. Capturing the extremes of human experience on film wasn’t the motivation for my being a photojournalist, but there were times I would be up close and personal to those events.

There is an irony in this picture.

A reporter and I rode along with police during a community-wide heroin bust. It wasn’t as sensational as blazing MAC 10’s on an episode of Miami Vice, but the adrenaline was flowing freely during this game of cat and mouse nonetheless.

The mice did what they could to keep things on the down-low, but the cats knew which mice on the street corner were watching for danger. They knew which mice distributed the cheese and where the hungry nibbled on it.

As it all started going down, our unmarked car rolled up behind a white van full of SWAT guys who descended on a small house. The mouse they were after wasn’t home, but a woman and her children were. I can still see them huddled together in the front yard, guarded by an armed policeman.

The subject they were after was reported to be at a grocery store a few blocks away. The day went south a few minutes later when he found himself at the end of a gun barrel, facedown in the parking lot.

I’m still curious — was the shirt the arrestee’s attempt at subterfuge? His way of avoiding suspicion? 

‘This’ll fool ‘em. I got my Just Say No shirt on!’

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