Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Saved by the Belt Buckle

Remember that robbery and shooting that took place on February 21 here in Soulard? iLoveSoulard talked to the 27-year old victim. Here's his story. Note: The victim's name has been changed to protect his identity.

Friday night February 21 wasn't much different for Ken than many other weekend nights. He was between jobs and staying with a friend in Soulard while he planned the next chapter of his life. Ken and some friends were sitting around at the house planning their strategy for the evening. At one point Ken remarked about how while Soulard was pretty safe relative to some other neighorhoods in St. Louis, it wasn't all that safe. People nodded their agreement and the conversation went on.

The friends headed out to a couple of different establishments in the neighborhood.

Fast forward to about 1am on Saturday morning. The group of friends had dwindled and people slowly started to call it a night and head home. Ken is left with a small group of friends. The friends decided to call it a night. There is discussion about Ken taking a cab back to his buddy's place. He figures it's only a couple of blocks and the weather isn't bad compared to what St. Louis had been experiencing this winter. He sets off from the establishment on Broadway back into the south end of Soulard.

He's a couple of blocks from his destination as it passes 1:30 am and closes in on 2. Ken hears a man's voice behind him at the same time he feels something poking into his back. “Give me your money” he says. Ken spins around to see an African-American male in his twenties of thirties pointing a gun at his face. “I don't have any money” Ken says. He puts up his hands and takes out his phone to show the worthless SOB in front of him what he does have.

Ken attempts to swipe SOB's gun away and hit him. The pair struggle. The man retains control of the gun and demands money again. “ I don't have any fucking money, Man” Ken replies.

Ken again tries to knock the gun away. He doesn't believe for a second that this man doesn't intend to fire his weapon. The pair struggles and then a shot rings out. Ken is on the ground bleeding. His phone is on the street inches away from him. He doesn't know the extent of the wound. He feels what may be blood on his stomach. He's in shock.

A car pulls up. A mid-2000s Hyundai Elantra it might be. Ken knows his cars. He knows it won't matter much since the vehicle will most likely turn up stolen.The African-American male picks up Ken's phone and hops into the car as it speeds off. Ken is left laying in the street. Luckily, a small group comes walking by see him shortly thereafter. 9-1-1 is called.

Ken gives his statement to police and EMTs attend to Ken. He doesn't have health insurance. That's just one of the things going through Ken's mind. He has an interview scheduled for next week. As 2013 faded, Ken told his friends that this was going to be his year. He was going to get on with the Carpenter's Union and start making strides in life.

By Monday, the initial shock of how close Ken came to dying in the middle of that street is starting to fade. It's faded into a discomfort and uneasiness. He decides he can't stay living where he is. He moves out of the neighborhood and into a spare room in the home of a friend's parents. They've always been there for him. He feels safe there.

Ken had his interview and he thinks it went well. He is working on getting a decent cell phone. Luckily, reliable transportation is the more important requirement for the job and he has that. He figures he'll worry about the medical bills when he starts getting a paycheck.

2014 is going to be Ken's year. The bullet from the gun hit his belt buckle. A few inches either way and Ken may not have made that job interview. The two SOBs who targeted Ken didn't plan on that. They didn't care if he bled out on the street or not. They were willing to let him die just so they could have his phone. They won't get much for it. Even if Ken had been carrying a little bit of cash, it wouldn't have been that much. These hoodlums didn't care how their actions would affect anyone but themselves. They don't deserve to walk our streets. Ken deserves to be here. That's why he wore that belt buckle that night.