Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday morning was one of the coldest days I’ve been out photographing thus far. X picked me up at 8 a.m. Bundled in a sweatshirt and jacket, I climbed into his car and we were off to photograph at the last two sites of the summer’s homicides. First we headed south to the 1500 block of West Garfield Boulevard where 25-year-old Brandon Brown was killed back in mid-June. Brown was a passenger in a car in line at a White Castle drive-thru when a suspect walked up to the passenger side of the car and shot him at close range. He was taken to the hospital where he died five days later. Police identified him as a known gang member. I had been by this location several times over the summer months, but never stopped to photograph because it was always so busy. I figured that one day I could come really early in the morning before people were out and get some images without the hubbub. At one point I called the location and spoke with a nice young lady that said, “This White Castle is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week except for Christmas.” After that discouraging conversation, I put it off until today. The drive-thru at the restaurant was on the west side of the building so the sun was shining brightly through the trees into my lens. The drive-thru itself was somewhat busy, but the area surrounding that was normally busy with people was pretty quiet. The only people who were out were waiting for the bus. The cold weather was working to my advantage. I photographed from a few different angles, but spent most of our time there chatting with X and waiting for the magic combination of a green light at the intersection and no cars in the drive-thru. It was a combination that was hard to manage. After finally getting some images that I was happy with and were free of people, we headed back north to our last location. On the way, we passed this wall of graffiti on the side of a convenience store surrounded by vacant lots. It looked a lot like the work of CHOKE so we pulled into the alley and traipsed through the high dewy grass to get a good look at it. (See above)
The last location was in the 1300 block of North Pulaski Road at a combination Dunkin Donuts, CITGO, and car wash. This was also a site X and I visited several times before that day. Originally, we had conflicting location codes. We thought that upon arrival we might be able to figure out where the incident happened based on the place, but as it turned out, the huge complex didn’t really tell us anything upon first sight. We came back again and again, once even walking inside and asking the cashier of the gas station if she could give us any details. She said it happened in the parking lot and then pointed in another direction all together. X said he would read the police report and see what he could glean from it. Knowing it was likely to be out last outing, he finally looked at the report on Thursday night. It didn’t give us much more information than we already had. What we did know was that Cesar Rosales, an employee at the car wash on site, got into an argument with another man in the parking lot. The man left and came back about a half hour later with a gun and shot him in the chest. Not really knowing where to point my camera, I stood far back and got in the whole complex. This was even more difficult than at White Castle since the gas station was buzzing with business. After I was done, X looked at me and said, “Well, that was kind of a disappointing finish.” There was no confetti raining from the sky.
X dropped me off and assured me that if I needed to go out and reshoot anything he would most certainly take me. X took me to 113 of the 167 sites this summer, which means that we spent a lot of time together. His girlfriend calls me the other woman. I was sad to leave X that morning knowing that it was our last time out. I think I made a great unlikely friend in the process.