The flashing lights

I had one of the scariest 5 minutes of my life on Thursday. I have failed to mention it because, well, I went camping and it faded into the background.

It was a typical last-day-of-the-week when I finally headed out the door to go pick the boys up from daycare. As I turned onto their street, I saw the flash of lights ahead. No big deal. There’s always quite a police presence in Lawrence, and daycare is right next to an ambulance dispatch facility, so lights and sirens are extremely common. As I got closer, though, I noticed that the lights were largely blue. And that there were a LOT Of blue lights.

Closer yet, and I discover the entire block is sealed off by cop cars, lights blasting. Six or seven cop cars. Sealing off the block where my sons are in daycare. I start to panic but reason that it’s a long block — it could be anything.

The closer I got, though, the closer to daycare the center of the action seemed. By the time I got to the barricade, I was in full-out panic. I thought of all the horrible things it might be: a drive by shooting, a terrible accident, a murder. It could be my sons. They could not be ok. I hastily parked the car and ran (in unseemly for running shoes) to the nearest police officer I could spot. I explained to his back (he was watching ahead) that my SONS were up the street at the daycare. He waved vaguely at the other side of the sidewalk and told me I could walk to get them.

About halfway up the street, I spotted their daycare provider, on her front porch with all the other gawkers. She waved at me, dandling Thane on her knee. I took a deep, deep breath of relief. My boys were ok. Shaky, I went to claim them. She had no idea what was going on either. I nervously escorted my sons back down the block to the car, hoping that the fact the police hadn’t shooed the passers-by meant that they weren’t expecting a shootout anytime soon.

My hands shook as I clipped them into their carseats. I momentarily contemplated taking a picture of the fuss, but decided that was dumb. Police don’t block off entire city blocks for parking infractions.

One of the strange things about our modern era is that you never know what will make a big stir. The cops arrest one guy in Cambridge for (they say) throwing a fit and it makes the national news for like a week. 10 cop cars barricade a block in Lawrence, and it might disappear from the record without mention ever being made. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever find out what all the hubbub was about.

I did finally find out. A teen mom and two male thug/accomplices went to her baby-daddy’s house and drew a gun on him, threatening to kill him if she didn’t give her the child, who she then made off with.

    Police said a woman, 19, showed up at her ex-boyfriend’s Canal Street home Thursday night with the three men.

    “Give me my kid or they’re going to kill you,” Santiago allegedly told Elvin Rosado, as two big men loaded and pointed guns at him and a friend.

She lived in the house the police were surrounded. Apparently they were waiting for her? (What fugitive from the law is like, “Gee, there’s a jillion cops surrounding my house. Guess I’ll go check my mail and and then see what they want!”) It ended not-tragically, with her showing up at the police department with the child in tow.

It was serious. There were deadly weapons involved. A child was in danger. But it wasn’t a drug bust or something that makes me scared for the neighborhood.

It also comes close. I’ve seen that child’s toys in the trash on the curb on Mondays, as I walk to daycare. I’m quite sure I’ve seen the kid, even if I don’t remember. (On nice afternoons, the entire neighborhood is usually out on the front porch.) And it’s very hard to get over that moment where you wonder if your children are dead or in danger, and whether you’re 15 minutes too late to save them.

I’m very, very grateful this was a false alarm, and hope never to come so close to any alarm again.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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