Location: Minnesota, United States
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Big city scary

Laurie, Mark, Scott, and the kids and I were at a neighborhood bar/restaurant called Norton's last night for dinner, and I couldn't find Eryn's sippy cup, so I went to the car to try to find it. As I passed the far side of the building next to the one we were in, for some reason I turned around and looked behind me. Something caught my eye in an upper floor window, but it didn't register right away, so I had to turn around again to get another look. It turned out to be exactly what I'd thought I"d seen: a man dressed all in black and wearing a black ski mask. To make it weirder, this time, he jumped up to pull down the shade over the window; it was very clear he'd seen me see him, and thought it was time to close the shade. Huh, I thought, that seems odd. So I went back into the restaurant and told the others about what I'd seen, and consulted them about whether it seemed like I ought to be calling 911. I was about to call, and then realized my phone was in the car, so Mark had the owner of the place call. A few minutes later, a patrol caar pulled up outside Norton's, and the officer came inside looking for me. I told him what I'd seen, while the other patrons looked on (presumably wondering what this non-regular was doing talking to a cop so soon after entering the bar), and he went off to investigate.

Before the officer could make it next door, two men in their twenties met him half-way, and they had an animated discussion during which the officer gestured in my direction (we were seated near the front window...for all I know, he was gesturing at Norton's in general). hey all smiled at one another and went next door. When the officer came back, he was grinning broadly. I went back into the entryway with him (Norton's is loud), remarking as we went "you're laughing." He answered, still laughing, "No, this is good, this is good." Here's what he said:

The two men were fully "decked out" in black, including ski/face masks, and they had what appeared to be semi-automatic rifles. They actually shot plastic pellets, (he had sone in his pocket and showed them to me), and they were capable of realistic-sounding semi-automatic fire. I asked if they were just "screwing around," and he said that's exactly what they were doing, and that they'd told him when they saw the squad pull up, they knew they were in trouble. They came outside to meet the officer to prevent him from "smoking" them, because the rifles were so realistic looking. (A real possibility, according to the officer, as he couldn't tell the difference between their guns and real ones from a few feet away, and he happened to be the lead for the area SWAT team.) IN the end, the officer said it was a good call, and he was glad we called it in. Then he said "You don't seem scared." I said the first thing that came to me: "I'm a social worker." He liked that answer, told me my kid was cute, and was on his way, still grinning.


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